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The week in numbers: w/e 24/10/10

3Beth Tweddle won her third gold medal at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Rotterdam, triumphing in the uneven bars. She is the only British gymnast ever to claim gold at the Worlds.

LaShawn Merritt - 21-month ban (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

21 – Length of ban (in months) given to LaShawn Merritt, the world and Olympic 400 metres champion, after three positive tests for testosterone prohormones. Merritt co-operated with the US Anti-Doping Agency, who subsequently shortened his suspension by three months. Conveniently, Merritt will now be eligible to compete in the 2012 Olympics.

14 – Goals scored by Arsenal in their three Champions League group matches to date, the most ever at this stage. They had already beaten Braga 6-0 and Partizan Belgrade 3-1 before defeating Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1 on Tuesday.

6 – Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh became the first player to score in six consecutive Champions League matches (three for Bordeaux, three for Arsenal).

8 – Number of summit finishes (out of 21 stages) the peloton will have to tackle during the 2011 Giro d’Italia, the route for which was revealed on Saturday. Ouch.

Samuel Eto'o - six Champions League goals (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

6Inter Milan‘s Samuel Eto’o has scored with all six shots on target in the Champions League this season.

1,200,000 – In dollars, the size of the fine the Kazakh cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov has avoided after his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport was upheld. Vinokourov had signed a contract which stated he would forfeit a year’s salary if caught doping. He was thrown out of the 2007 Tour de France for blood doping and subsequently served a two-year ban.

16 – Goals scored by Real Madrid in their last three league games after their 6-1 win over Racing Santander. Cristiano Ronaldo scored four times in Saturday evening’s rout.

10PSV Eindhoven inflicted a record 10-0 defeat on former European and UEFA Cup winners Feyenoord. Brazilian Jonathan Reis scored a hat-trick.

70 – Former footballer Edison “Edson” Arantes do Nascimento celebrated his 70th birthday on Saturday. We know him better as Pelé.

Fernando Alonso now leads the F1 drivers' championship (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

5Ferrari‘s Fernando Alonso claimed his fifth grand prix win of the season – it was his third in the last four races – at the inaugural event in South Korea yesterday.

25 – With two races remaining of the Formula 1 season, just 25 points separate new championship leader Alonso from fourth-placed Sebastian Vettel. There are 25 points available for a race win.

26 – Age of American male swimmer Fran Crippen, a World Championship bronze medallist, who died on Saturday after losing consciousness in a 10km race held in the United Arab Emirates. The water temperature was officially 30 degrees, although many of the swimmers reported it was hotter. Three other competitors were hospitalised as race organisers did nothing to heed warnings and concerns from several swimmers.

The Premier League week in numbers

1West Ham only managed one shot on target in their 2-1 defeat at home to Newcastle, the third time this has happened to them this season.

Johan Elmander - away specialist

5Johan Elmander‘s goal for Bolton in their 1-1 draw at Wigan was his fifth in the league this season. All five have come away from home.

8 – After defeating Wolves 2-0, Chelsea have now kept eight consecutive Premier League clean sheets at home.

12 – For Wolves, it was the 12th straight game in which they have failed to keep a clean sheet. They are the only Premier League team yet to register a clean sheet this season.

51Birmingham‘s 2-0 win over Blackpool snapped a sequence of 51 games in which they had failed to win by more than a single goal.

Richard Dunne - generous

8 – A Richard Dunne own goal was enough to give Sunderland victory over Aston Villa. Dunne has now scored eight own goals in the Premier League, more than any other player.

16 – Arsenal’s 3-0 at Manchester City was their first clean sheet in 16 games (in all competitions) away from the Emirates Stadium.

4 – Arsenal’s league opponents to date have had four players sent off, and conceded four penalties – more than any other team in both categories.

The NFL week in numbers

328 – Rushing yards accumulated by the Oakland Raiders in their 59-14 rout of the Denver Broncos. It was the third-best rushing day in franchise history, and the most since they set their record of 356 rushing yards against Seattle in 1987.

12 – Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has won his last 12 starts at home, and is 16-1 in his career at home as a starter (Atlanta 39 Cincinnati 32).

184Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward had his 184th consecutive game with a reception, passing Art Monk for the fourth-longest streak all-time (Pittsburgh 23 Miami 22).

1 – The Carolina Panthers‘ 23-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers means there is only one winless team remaining in the NFL – the Buffalo Bills, who lost in overtime, 37-34, to the Baltimore Ravens.

2Cleveland Browns linebacker David Bowens returned two interceptions for touchdowns, becoming only the third linebacker since 1950 to achieve this feat (Cleveland 30 New Orleans 17).

68 – Cleveland punter Reggie Hodges’ 68-yard run on a fake punt was the longest run by a punter since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger.

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, @castrolfootball and NFL.com.)

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Arsenal show steel to defeat 10-man City

Manchester City 0 Arsenal 3

Nasri 21, Song 66, Bendtner 88

It took a long time to bring their numerical advantage fully to bear, but Arsenal eventually inflicted Manchester City‘s heaviest home defeat since early 2007 with something to spare. The home side played almost the entire game with ten men after Dedryk Boyata’s early dismissal, but battled hard before finally succumbing in the final 25 minutes. Arsenal’s win propels them into second place in the Premier League, albeit still five points behind leaders Chelsea.

Arsenal had succumbed 4-2 in this fixture last season, and entered this game having failed to defeat the trio of City, Chelsea and Manchester United in any of their last nine meetings, so it was vital that they secure some kind of positive result, for their psychological well-being as much as a need to stay in touch at the top of the table.

Arsène Wenger made three changes from the side which thumped Shakhtar Donetsk last Tuesday. Denilson stepped in for the suspended Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna returned from injury in place of Emmanuel Eboué, while Tomáš Rosický gave way to Andrey Arshavin.

City started brightly, twice creating openings down Arsenal’s left flank in the first four minutes. Łukasz Fabiański did well to snare David Silva‘s close-range effort after great work from Carlos Tevez, while Sagna made a timely interception from Micah Richards‘ teasing centre.

Dedryk Boyata's day was a short one, as he saw red with barely four minutes gone

But, almost before it had properly begun, the shape of the match changed in an instant. Cesc Fàbregas played a defence-splitting ball for Marouane Chamakh, eliciting a desperate lunge from Boyata. The City defender got nowhere near the ball, and referee Mark Clattenburg had no option but to send him off for a clear denial of a goalscoring opportunity.

A game which had already been billed as a defining moment for both sides immediately became niggly. Fàbregas found himself on the receiving end of robust tackles from Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry, while both Denilson and Alex Song responded as the visitors refused to be bullied.

Nonetheless, Arsenal were struggling to make their man advantage count. The tireless Carlos Tevez repeatedly had their defence at full stretch, and twice Micah Richards had space to maraud down the right as Arshavin and Gaël Clichy went AWOL. In particular, Johan Djourou looked very much like a player making only his 16th Premier League start in the last three-and-a-bit seasons, lacking a yard in both his legs and his mind.

Samir Nasri chipped in with a goal and an assist (image courtesy of arsenal.com)

Other than Djourou sending a free header wastefully over, Arsenal struggled to create clear opportunities as City’s reorganised defence held firm. But midway through the half the visitors finally broke the deadlock. Samir Nasri played a neat one-two with Arshavin, eluded a ball-watching Barry and clipped the ball past the advancing Joe Hart for his seventh goal in as many games.

City continued to press forward, offering more than enough threat to keep Arsenal on their toes, with Denilson, Fàbregas, Song and Djouoru all finding their way into Clattenburg’s book before half-time.

Five minutes before the interval, though, Vincent Kompany slid in on Fàbregas in the box for a clear penalty. The Arsenal captain dusted himself down to take the spot-kick himself, but Hart dived full-length to his left to make an excellent stop. It was the third time (out of nine) Arsenal have failed to convert a penalty so far this season.

Arsenal started the second half much as they ended the first: slightly hesitant and lacking consistent menace. City boss Roberto Mancini sent on Emmanuel Adebayor in place of Tevez as City put the Londoners on the back foot. Silva brought another fine save from Fabiański, and soon after Adebayor headed over under pressure from the Polish keeper.

But again Arsenal gradually began to reassert control over the game. With Denilson and Song strong in front of the back four, Nasri and Fàbregas prodded and probed and started to stretch City’s tiring defence. On 66 minutes, Fàbregas sent a penetrative pass into the box for the hard-working Marouane Chamakh, and although it was cut out the loose ball rolled invitingly to Song, who lashed it into the roof of the net.

Nicklas Bendtner opened his 2010/11 account with a fine late goal (image courtesy of arsenal.com)

City were visibly deflated by the second goal, and as the home fans started to head for the exits both sides were content to play out the final quarter of the game, but not before Arsenal substitutes Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner made their presence felt. Walcott terrified the City back line with his pace and directness. And Bendtner, sent clear by Nasri, made no mistake with a precise slanted finish two minutes from time.

While rarely at their fluid best, this was a tough, gritty performance by Arsenal of the type which the team has often struggled to produce against top sides in recent years. Two straight wins have steadied the ship after a run which saw them gain just one point from three games prior to the international break. And a first clean sheet in 16 away games (in all competitions) will be no less welcome for the fact that it came against ten men.

With several key players now returning – or on the point of returning – from injury, Arsenal have every chance of building on this new-found momentum. Fàbregas is still feeling his way back after missing a full month, but he still set the tempo for much of Arsenal’s attacking play. 85 minutes at full match speed will have done him a power of good. And Nasri continues to develop as both a creative and a goalscoring threat. He completed 65 passes in the City half yesterday, the second-highest total by any Premier League player so far this season, and his tightrope dribble down the touchline to set up Bendtner’s late goal summed up yet another industrious performance by the 23-year old French international.

Arsène Wenger was understandably elated with the win:

It was important to get a win in a big place to strengthen the belief of the squad and continue our march forward. What I think we did today [we did with] intelligence and overall the needed performance to play against ten men.

He also singled out both Nasri and the increasingly impressive Lukasz Fabiański for individual praise:

He [Nasri] is becoming more efficient. I think he has become stronger physically and you judge a player with his numbers. Today he had a goal and an assist so that’s what you want from players who have a lot of talent like he has. He is quite a complete player because he can run with the ball, he is quick and he is a clinical finisher now. I believe we have a great player in him now.

From game to game he [Fabiański] shows what we see in training. Sometimes in our job you have to be steady and fight against opinions. It’s easier for you when you know the player has the talent and I believe he has the talent.

Next up for Arsenal is the fourth round Carling Cup trip to Newcastle United on Wednesday evening, before hosting bottom of the table West Ham on Saturday. On the same weekend last season, Arsenal travelled to West Ham and were pegged back after leading 2-0. A repeat of yesterday’s gritty, focussed showing is required to ensure that does not happen again.

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