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The week in numbers: w/e 25/9/11

Makau erased Gebreselassie's time from the record books

2:03:38 – Kenya’s Patrick Makau set a new world record time of 2:03:38 at the Berlin Marathon, taking 21 seconds off the previous record held by Haile Gebreselassie.

1Sebastian Vettel requires just one point from the last five Formula 1 races of the season to clinch his back-to-back world titles after he dominated the Singapore Grand Prix to record his ninth win of the season.

0 – Number of times a car other than a Red Bull has been on pole position during the 14 races of this F1 season. Vettel has 11 poles, Mark Webber three.

2  Owen Hargreaves made only his second competitive start in three years, and scored as Manchester City knocked holders Birmingham out of the Carling Cup 2-1.

3 – Arsenal Ladies completed the domestic treble with a 4-1 League Cup final win over Birmingham. It was their 37th trophy in 24 years.

Cavendish sprinted to victory to take the rainbow jersey (image courtesy of Graham Watson)

2Mark Cavendish won the men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships to become only the second British rider ever to win the event. Tom Simpson was the other, in 1965 – he went on to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year that year.

3 – Three of the four senior (elite) races at the Road World Championships were won by riders from the HTC-Highroad team (Cavendish, Tony Martin, Judith Arndt). In addition, all three riders on the men’s road race podium rode for the team in 2010: Cavendish and Matt Goss remain with HTC, while bronze medalist André Greipel moved to Omega Pharma-Lotto this year. The team is disbanding at the end of the season.

7 – The West Indies lost seven wickets for just 21 runs as they collapsed to 125 all out in their first Twenty20 match against England at the Oval. England romped to victory by ten wickets.

4 – Run outs in England‘s innings in the second Twenty20 match as they slumped to 88 all out – their lowest ever score in this form of the game – and allowed the West Indies to level the series 1-1.

4 – The European ladies’ golf team defeated the USA 15-13 to regain the Solheim Cup after three consecutive defeats. It was only the fourth time Europe have won the competition, which the USA leads 8-4.

80 – Age of Donald’ Ginger’ McCain, trainer of three-time Grand National winner Red Rum, who died last week.

The Premier League in numbers

100Robin van Persie scored his 99th and 100th goals for Arsenal in the 3-0 win over Bolton.

Walcott links up particularly well with van Persie (image courtesy of arsenal.com)

7Theo Walcott provided the assist for van Persie’s second goal. All seven of Walcott’s assists in 2011 have been for goals scored by van Persie.

43West Bromwich Albion‘s 0-0 draw with Fulham snapped a streak of 43 games since their previous goalless draw in a Premier League game.

63Chelsea‘s 4-1 win over Swansea extended their unbeaten streak against newly promoted sides to 63 games, dating back to 2001. They have won 56 of those 63 games.

27Manchester United opened the scoring in their 1-1 draw at Stoke with a 27th-minute goal by Nani. This was the third time in a row against Stoke that they have opened the scoring in the same minute.

6 – In scoring Stoke’s equaliser, Peter Crouch became only the sixth player to score for six different clubs in the Premier League. (The other five are Andy Cole, Les Ferdinand, Marcus Bent, Nicky Barmby and Craig Bellamy.)

9Queens Park Rangers‘ last-minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw against Aston Villa came courtesy of Richard Dunne‘s ninth Premier League own goal. He has two more than any other player.

The Rugby World Cup in numbers

9South Africa‘s 87-0 win over Namibia marked the ninth-biggest winning margin in a World Cup game and the third-highest score to nil.

14Namibia have now lost all 14 of their Rugby World Cup matches. No other side has lost as many without winning a single game.

Ashton's was one of two England hat-tricks against Romania (image courtesy of rugbyworldcup.com)

5Mark Cueto and Chris Ashton both scored hat-tricks in England’s 67-3 win over Romania – the fifth time more than one player has scored a hat-trick in the same World Cup match.

14 – Australia scored 11 tries in their 67-5 win over the USA, the 14th time they have crossed for ten or more tries in a match.

25New Zealand‘s 37-17 victory against France extended their unbeaten run at Auckland’s Eden Park to 25 matches. The last team to beat them there was France, in 1994.

2Argentina‘s 13-12 victory over Scotland was only the second game at this World Cup with fewer than ten points in the first half. The other was Argentina vs England.

The NFL in numbers

11 – 11 of Sunday’s 15 games were decided by seven points or fewer.

3 – Baltimore rookie Torrey Smith took his first three career receptions for touchdowns of 74, 41 and 18 yards, all in the first quarter of the Ravens’ 37-7 rout of the St Louis Rams. He finished with five catches for 152 yards.

18 – The Buffalo Bills became the first team in NFL history to win consecutive games in which they trailed by at least 18 points in each game, as they overcame a 21-0 deficit to beat the New England Patriots 34-31 on a field goal as time expired.

15Buffalo‘s victory ended a 15-game losing streak to the Patriots, dating back to 2003.

Brees has now thrown a TD pass in each of his last 30 games (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

4 – New Orelans’ Drew Brees became only the fourth player in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass in 30 consecutive games, joining Johnny Unitas (47), Brett Favre (36) and Dan Marino (30). The Saints outlasted the Houston Texans 40-33 in an offensive shootout.

20 – The Detroit Lions were outscored 20-0 in the first half by the Minnesota Vikings, but rallied to win 26-23 when Jason Hanson hit a 32-yard field goal in overtime.

1 – Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson became the first player ever to have at least two TD catches in each of his team’s first three games of the season. He had seven receptions for 108 yards, scoring from 32 and five yards.

553 – The Ravens accumulated 553 yards on offense, 406 of which came in the first half. Both marks were new franchise records.

3 – In a wild finish, the lead changed hands three times in the last 5½ minutes of the game as Pittsburgh beat Indianapolis 23-20.

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, The Times, StatManJon, Infostrada, nfl.com and rugbyworldcup.com.)

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My sporting month: September 2011

Ah, September. The end of summer. The beginning of autumn. The conclusion of the last major events of the year in tennis (the US Open) and cycling (the Vuelta a España). The start of the quadrennial highlight in one leading sport. The resumption of hostilities in the qualifying campaign of another. Events all over the world ranging from one of the northernmost countries in Europe to one of the most eastern nations in Asia. And a first encounter between the most successful and longest-serving manager in English football’s top division and a newcomer less than half his age. It should be quite a month. Here’s what I’ll be watching this month.

1. Euro 2012 qualifiers – Bulgaria vs England (2nd), England vs Wales (6th)

England‘s qualifying campaign for next summer’s European Championships resumes with a double-header against the bottom two teams in group F, with victory in both games essential if they are to stay ahead of Montenegro in the race for the one automatic qualification spot.

A day before the anniversary of a 4-0 drubbing at Wembley courtesy of a Jermain Defoe hat-trick, Fabio Capello‘s men will travel to Sofia without key midfielders Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere in search of a repeat win over Bulgaria. Four days later they will host Wales, who have lost all four of their matches to date, including a 2-0 defeat to England in March which was more one-sided than the scoreline suggests.

2. Rugby World Cup (starts 9th)

Over the course of six weeks, 20 teams will battle it out in New Zealand for the right to succeed South Africa as rugby union’s world champions. In 2007 the Springboks ground down defending champions England 15-6 in a dour game, while the tournament’s surprise package Argentina repeated their opening night upset of hosts France with a 34-10 victory in the bronze medal match.

The balance of power in world rugby currently resides firmly with the southern hemisphere sides, with New Zealand hopeful of taking full advantage of their position as hosts to win their first World Cup since they co-hosted the inaugural tournament in 1987. Australia will look to carry forward the form which saw them win the Tri-Nations last weekend to claim their third World Cup, with South Africa also seeking to become the first country to take a hat-trick of victories. It will be a major surprise if England, France or any of the northern hemisphere countries come out on top.

The group phase occupies the whole of the first month, with the final taking place in Auckland’s Eden Park on October 23rd.

3. Manchester United vs Chelsea (18th)

This is more than just a clash between two of the Premier League’s heavyweight teams. Coming just three weeks after Manchester United thrashed Arsenal 8-2 in a battle between the division’s two longest-serving managers, this game is a tussle between the old guard, 69-year old Sir Alex Ferguson, and the new generation as represented by new Chelsea boss André Villas-Boas, who at 33 years old is the youngest manager in the Premier League.

It is too early in the fixture list to call this a season-defining match, but it will certainly lay down a marker for the rest of the campaign. Will the wily old fox – whose team this season has received a fresh injection of youth in the shape of Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley – have too much for the latest pretender to the throne, several of whose players are barely younger than he is?

Cancellara will defend his time trial world title

4. Cycling road world championships (19th-25th)

Copenhagen plays host to the cycling’s road world championships for the fifth time in its history (but the first since 1956) on a relatively flat course which offers major opportunities for British glory. In the men’s events, Thor Hushovd (road race) and Fabian Cancellara (time trial) will defend their rainbow jerseys with Mark Cavendish, supported by a full-strength British team, a major favourite for the former.

In the women’s races Britain’s Emma Pooley (time trial) and Italy’s Girogia Bronzini (road race) are the defending champions. Lizzie Armitstead and former world and Olympic champion Nicole Cooke will be Britain’s main hopes in the road race – the pair finished ninth and fourth respectively in Melbourne last year.

5. Singapore Grand Prix (25th)

The battle for the Formula 1 drivers’ championship may be all but mathematically over – Sebastian Vettel‘s seventh win of the season in Belgium moved him 92 points clear with a maximum of just 175 still available – but that will not diminish the spectacle of Singapore’s night race, the first of five consecutive grands prix following the end of the final European race in Italy a fortnight before.

In last year’s race Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso just managed to hold off eventual world champion Vettel by less than three-tenths of a second to claim the hat-trick of pole position, fastest lap and race win. It was a victory significantly less controversial than his previous one for Renault in the race’s maiden outing in 2008, when he took first place after teammate Nelson Piquet Jr was ordered to crash by the team to force a safety car period. That provided the platform for Alonso to charge through the field from 15th on the grid. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is the only other driver to have won in Singapore.

The week in numbers: w/e 26/9/10

England captain Andrew Strauss (image courtesy of HNM_1977)

8 Andrew Strauss‘s 68 in last Monday’s fourth one-day international against Pakistan was the eighth time he has passed 50 in ODIs in 2010, more than any other batsman. England went on to win the series 3-2.

68 – Points scored by both Collingwood and St Kilda in Saturday’s AFL Grand Final, after St Kilda recovered from a 24-point, third quarter deficit to level the scores with just 1:31 remaining. The teams will replay the final next Saturday.

3 – It was only the third tied final in AFL history, and the first since 1977.

0.293 – In seconds, Fernando Alonso‘s winning margin over Sebastian Vettel at yesterday’s Singapore Grand Prix.

25 – The points difference between F1 championship leader Mark Webber and fifth-placed Jenson Button, equivalent to the points available for a single race win. There are four grands prix remaining (assuming the Korean Grand Prix goes ahead).

31 – Age of Terry Newton, the former Wakefield and Great Britain rugby league star, who was found hanged at his home near Wigan yesterday afternoon. Newton had been serving a two-year suspension after testing positive for human growth hormone (HGH).

Ronnie O'Sullivan

10Ronnie O’Sullivan scored a record tenth career 147 break at the World Open in Glasgow last Monday. He had to be asked to pot the final black for the benefit of the crowd, having stopped at the pink in protest at the lack of a sizeable prize for a maximum break.

1 – Australian Neil Robertson defeated O’Sullivan 5-1 in last night’s final to confirm his position as the new world number one. He has now won all six of the world-ranking finals he has contested.

1997West Ham‘s 2-1 victory at Sunderland was the first time they had won a League Cup tie against top-tier opponents since 1997.

6 – In each of Wednesday’s six Carling Cup third round ties, the team scoring first ended up being knocked out of the competition.

69 – League positions between Liverpool (16th in the Premier League) and Northampton Town (17th in League Two) when the teams faced each other at Anfield in the Carling Cup. Northampton won on penalties when the match finished 2-2 after extra time, advancing to the fourth round for the first time since 1966.

30 – By winning 4-3 at Stamford Bridge, Newcastle ended Chelsea‘s run of 30 home domestic cup ties without defeat.

The Premier League week in numbers

Carlos Tevez

6 Carlos Tevez has scored six times in his last five Premier League appearances against Chelsea. In scoring the only goal of the game on Saturday, he raised his record to 25 goals in his last 29 league appearances.

0.70 – Goals per Premier League match conceded by Manchester City (27 games, 19 goals) since Roberto Mancini took over as manager. Under his predecessor Mark Hughes, they conceded goals at exactly twice that rate – 77 goals in 55 games, or 1.40 per match.

2 – Since the start of the 2009/10 season, Chelsea have failed to score just twice in the Premier League – against Birmingham last season and at Manchester City. The opposing goalkeeper on both occasions was Joe Hart.

5 – By drawing 0-0 at home to Everton, Fulham became only the second Premier League side to draw five of their opening six league games of the season, after Ipswich in 1992/93.

6 Fulham are unbeaten in their first six games, their best ever start to a Premier League season.

Samir Nasri (image courtesy of arsenal.com)

3Samir Nasri has scored all three Arsenal goals in West Bromwich Albion‘s two visits to the Emirates Stadium. His two goals on Saturday were his first at home in the Premier League since scoring two against Manchester United in November 2008.

18 – Their 3-2 win at the Emirates ended West Brom’s run of 18 consecutive Premier League away games without a win (four draws, 14 defeats).

5Manuel Almunia has saved five of the last six Premier League penalties he has faced at the Emirates Stadium. (He saved Chris Brunt‘s first-half spot-kick on Saturday.)

2 – West Ham, who won their first league game of the season (1-0 versus Spurs), have collected exactly two yellow cards in each of their six Premier League games to date.

21Birmingham‘s goalless draw with Wigan extended their run of unbeaten home league games to 21.

2 – Six games into the Premier League season, there are now only two undefeated teams – Manchester United and Fulham.

1 – West Ham’s victory over Spurs means Everton are now the Premier League’s only winless club.

The NFL week in numbers

Tom Brady (image courtesy of Keith Allison)

22 – Consecutive home starts won by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (New England 38 Buffalo 30). Brady passed for 252 yards and three touchdowns.

22 – Consecutive road losses by the Detroit Lions, tied for the third-longest streak in NFL history (Minnesota 24 Detroit 10).

2Seattle‘s Leon Washington returned kickoffs 101 and 99 yards for touchdowns, becoming only the tenth player in NFL history to record two kick return TDs in a single game (Seattle 27 San Diego 20).

3 – There will be just three undefeated teams in the NFL after week three. The Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers are both 3-0, and the Chicago Bears take on the Green Bay Packers tonight, with both currently 2-0.

5 – Conversely, there are five teams still looking to record their first win (Buffalo, Carolina, Cleveland, Detroit and San Francisco).

(Some statistics courtesy of @OptaJoe, @optajim, @OptaJean, @StatManJon and NFL.com.)

My sporting month: September 2010

With the Premier League in full swing, the Euro qualifying campaign getting under way, and both domestic and European cup competitions ramping up this month, you could be forgiven for thinking September is all about football, football and still more football, with a side serving of football.

But there is plenty of great sport on all across the world this month, so here are five of the big sporting events – both football and non-football – which I will be settling down into the armchair to watch over the next 30 days.

1. NFL regular season kick-off (9th-13th)

Defending champion New Orleans Saints host the Minnesota Vikings – for whom quarterback and future Hall of Famer Brett Favre returns for an incredible 20th season of football – in the Thursday night curtain-raiser on the 9th.

In terms of history and tradition, the highlight of the opening round is probably the Dallas Cowboys versus the Washington Redskins, but I will be watching out for the San Francisco 49ers, who visit division rival Seattle Seahawks looking to end a series of seven straight seasons in which they have failed to win the NFC West, the longest barren spell since their first Super Bowl season of 1981. Surely this year …?

2. UEFA Champions League Matchdays 1 & 2 (14th/15th & 28th/29th)

The most fiercely contested club competition in world football returns this month with the opening two matchdays of the group phase. The draw, conducted in Monaco last Thursday, pits three of the historic giants of European football – AC Milan, Real Madrid and Ajax – in the same group.

Matchday 1 sees Manchester United play Rangers at Old Trafford, with Arsenal hosting Braga and Chelsea and Tottenham travelling to MŠK Žilina and Werder Bremen respectively. But the two biggest ties of the first round will see Real Madrid play Ajax, while Bayern Munich welcome Roma.

The tie of the round in matchday 2 sees Ajax host AC Milan. Tasty stuff.

3. Premier League: Man Utd vs Liverpool (19th) and Man City vs Chelsea (25th)

After an opening weekend draw with Arsenal, this is Liverpool‘s second major test of the season as they attempt to regain a top-four spot with a visit to the home of their bitter rivals. Even in relatively poor seasons, Liverpool have often upset United and will be looking to do so again in what promises to be a ferocious and passionate match.

The following Saturday (the 25th), Man City host Chelsea in an intriguing showdown between the wealthiest club in football versus the team who used to hold that mantle. As the current Premier League champions, it is Chelsea who City have directly in their sights as they strive to turn hundreds of millions of pounds of investment into tangible results. It promises to be a fascinating match-up, and a genuine yardstick for City to measure their potential against.

4. AFL Grand Final (25th)

The vagaries of the Aussie Rules playoff system means that it takes three knockout rounds to whittle the eight qualifying teams down to the two finalists. (Don’t ask.) While my team, the West Coast Eagles, finished sixteenth and last on the league ladder Collingwood, coached by former Eagles’ head man Mick Malthouse, go into the finals series as the top-seeded club.

The Grand Final will take place at the MCG on Saturday 25th, but the knockout action begins this Friday. With the entire season at stake, expect a series of tough, no-hold-barred battles.

Lewis Hamilton en route to winning last year's Singapore GP (image courtesy of Nir Sinay)

5. Singapore Grand Prix (26th)

With the F1 drivers’ championship still too close to call – just three points separate Lewis Hamilton from second-placed Mark Webber after Sunday’s Belgian GP – the spectacular night race around the streets of Singapore heralds the end of the European season and the beginning of a long, five-race haul to the end of a season which looks like going right down to the final race in Abu Dhabi in November.

Will Hamilton extend his lead? Or can Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso haul themselves back into contention?

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