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Battling draw sees Arsenal edge ahead in the fight for third

Stoke 1 Arsenal 1

Crouch 9; van Persie 15

Although both sides had opportunities to win this game in the closing 15 minutes, a draw at the home of one of their bogey teams will have pleased Arsenal, particularly in the light of Newcastle’s heavy defeat at Wigan. It leaves them in control of their own destiny in the battle for the third and final guaranteed Champions League spot. However, the game was marred by persistent abuse from the home fans, much of it targeted at Aaron Ramsey, who was returning to the ground where he had his leg broken by Ryan Shawcross two years ago. Read more of this post

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The week in numbers: w/e 19/2/12

Hoy won two events at the Track World Cup meeting in London (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

4 – Gold medals won by the British cycling team at the Track World Cup event at London’s Olympic velodrome. Sir Chris Hoy won in the individual sprint and keirin, while Joanna Rowsell won the women’s individual pursuit and the women’s team won the team pursuit. Britain also won a silver and two bronze medals.

45 – Balls required by South Africa’s Richard Levi to hit the fastest-ever Twenty20 international century. He finished with an unbeaten 117 from 51 balls, including a record 13 sixes, as South Africa beat New Zealand by eight wickets in Hamilton.

10 – Points deducted from Rangers after the club was put into administration last week owing up to £75m to HM Revenue & Customs. Despite the deduction, they remain six points clear of third-placed Motherwell in the Scottish Premier League.

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The week in numbers: w/e 18/12/11

Wilkinson retired as the second-highest scorer in rugby internationals (image courtesy of rugbyworldcup.com)

1,246 – Points scored by England’s Jonny Wilkinson, who announced his retirement from international rugby last week. Only New Zealand’s Dan Carter (1250) has more international points. Wilkinson’s 36 drop goals is more than any other international player.

15 – South Africa crushed Sri Lanka by an innings and 81 runs in the first Test of a three-match series at Centurion. Sri Lanka have now failed to win any of their 15 matches since Muttiah Muralitharan retired from Test cricket in July 2010.

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The week in numbers: w/e 6/11/11

Butt was found guilty of spot-fixing

30 – In months, jail sentence handed down to former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt for his role in agreeing to arrange for three no-balls to be delivered at specified times during a Test match against England at Lord’s last year. Bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were given 12 and six-month sentences respectively.

10 – Casey Stoner, who had already secured the 2011 MotoGP title, overtook Ben Spies on the final corner of the season-closing race in Valencia to win his tenth race of the year.

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Van Persie’s fourth quarter magic lifts misfiring Gunners

Arsenal 3 Stoke 1

Gervinho 27, van Persie 73, 82; Crouch 34

On a day when the NFL came to London and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly failed to complete a fourth quarter comeback against the Chicago Bears, Robin van Persie came off the bench for the final quarter of a game to provide the spark necessary to ignite an otherwise lacklustre performance by his Arsenal teammates. His late brace of close-range goals inspired a 3-1 victory, the Gunners’ sixth straight at the Emirates and their sixth in their last seven games overall. The win moved them up to seventh in the table as Arsène Wenger‘s rebuilding side continue to exhibit steady signs of improvement.

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