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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.

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