The week in numbers: w/e 30/10/11

McIlroy walked away with a cheque for $2m (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

2,000,000 – In dollars, the prize collected by Rory McIlroy for winning the inaugural (and non-official) Shanghai Masters – $560,000 more than he earned for winning the US Open in June. McIlroy beat Anthony Kim in a sudden-death playoff after squandering a three-shot lead going into the final round.

16 – By setting the fastest time in qualifying for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel recorded Red Bull‘s 16th pole of 2011, a new record for one team in a single season.

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The week in numbers: w/e 7/11/10

Édgar Rentería, 2010 World Series MVP (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

56 – The San Francisco Giants‘ 4-1 win over the Texas Rangers gave them their first World Series triumph since 1954 (a gap of 56 years), and their first since relocating from New York in 1957.

4 – Short-stop Édgar Rentería hit the three-run homer which gave the Giants their 3-1 victory to clinch the World Series. He is only the fourth man to have struck the winning hit in a World Series-clinching game (having previously done the same for the Florida Marlins in 1997), joining an exclusive club comprising three of baseball’s biggest legends: Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra. Rentería was also voted the World Series MVP, the first Colombian player to receive that accolade.

25 – Number of points deducted from Scottish First Division club Dundee, after they went into administration for the second time in seven years. This left them on minus-11 points, 20 points adrift at the bottom of the division.

7 Marseille‘s 7-0 away win at Slovakian champions MŠK Žilina was the largest ever victory by a visiting side since the European Cup adopted the Champions League format.

14Arsenal‘s 2-1 defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk marked the 14th successive Champions League away game in which they have failed to keep a clean sheet.

8Celtic beat Aberdeen 9-0 on Saturday, despite only having eight shots on target.

Brazilian GP winner Sebastian Vettel (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

4 – Number of drivers who can still win the Formula 1 drivers’ title with just the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to come. Sebastian Vettel led a Red Bull one-two in Brazil to cut Fernando Alonso‘s advantage over the German’s teammate Mark Webber to just eight points. Lewis Hamilton is a rank outsider, 24 points behind Alonso. (25 points are available for a win.)

2 – If Alonso finishes second in Abu Dhabi, he will guarantee winning his third drivers’ title.

1 – Although the drivers’ title remains in doubt, Red Bull claimed their first constructors’ world championship, in only their sixth season.

4 – Britain enjoyed their most successful ever World Rowing Championships, winning four gold medals in Olympic-class events (and five in total).

The Premier League week in numbers

61 – Number of minutes for which West Bromwich Albion played with nine men at Blackpool on Monday night. Although they lost the match 2-1, the score during the 61 minutes for which they had a two-man disadvantage was 1-1.

29 – After their 2-2 draw with Everton, Blackpool have now scored in 29 consecutive home matches, last failing to score at home on 18th October 2009.

Owen Hargreaves - crocked again

777Owen Hargreaves started Manchester United‘s game against Wolves, 777 days after his previous Premier League start.

5 – Hargreaves lasted for just five minutes before leaving the field injured. (United won 2-1.)

8Liverpool‘s 2-0 win against Chelsea ended their run of eight consecutive league wins against the other members of the ‘Big Four’ (Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal).

27 Cesc Fàbregas misplaced 27 passes in Arsenal’s 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle, his worst ever tally in a Premier League game.

2 – Arsenal are the first ‘Big Four’ side to lose at home to two different newly promoted teams in a Premier League season.

2Mario Balotelli became the first player to score twice and be sent off in the same Premier League match since Robbie Keane against Birmingham in December 2007.

The NFL week in numbers

3 – There were three overtime games this weekend, the most in the NFL since week two of the 2006 season.

13 – The Atlanta Falcons have won 13 straight home games under quarterback Matt Ryan, whose overall home record as a starter is now 17-1 (Atlanta 27 Tampa Bay 21).

Philip Rivers (image courtesy of chargers.com)

22 – Philip Rivers had his 22nd straight game with at least one passing touchdown (the longest active streak in the NFL) as San Diego beat Houston 29-23. He now has 2,944 passing yards this season, putting him on pace for an NFL-record 5,234 yards.

7 – The New York Jets picked up their seventh straight road win – a franchise record – as they defeated Detroit 23-20 in overtime.

1 – Detroit rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh missed an extra point attempt standing in for injured kicker Jason Hanson. He is the first defensive tackle since at least 1970 to attempt a kick in a game.

3 – The Oakland Raiders have won three straight games for first time since their 2002 Super Bowl season, and their five wins is already tied for their most since the same season. (Oakland 23 Kansas City 20 (OT)).

12 – The Philadelphia Eagles improved to 12-0 in games following a bye week under coach Andy Reid, the longest such streak in the NFL. (Philadelphia 26 Indianapolis 24).

13Indianapolis‘s loss ended the Colts’ streak of 13 straight wins in games played in November.

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

My sporting month: November 2010

With the clocks having gone back and the long nights drawing in, it now feels very much like winter is upon us. But who minds, when there is so much varied and interesting sport on our TV screens? This November is notable for two huge derby matches in the Premier League, the conclusion of one of the most closely fought Formula 1 title races ever, the end of the Major League Baseball season and the start of the only Test series that really matters in world cricket. Here is a quick preview of each of these five events in turn, to help you forget about the dark, cold nights to come.

1. World Series (until the 4th, at latest)

Baseball’s showpiece finale actually started last Wednesday. The San Francisco Giants lead World Series debutants Texas Rangers 3-1 in the best-of-seven series after last night’s 4-0 win in Texas. Another victory in game five tonight would clinch their first title since 1954. In most years I struggle to do more than catch up with brief highlights the morning after each game, but I am trying to follow the World Series a bit more closely this year simply because the Giants are the one team I have watched at their stadium in the flesh (an extra innings win over the Florida Marlins in 2004). Hey, I’m fickle. If required, the deciding seventh game will take place on Thursday.

2. Manchester City vs Manchester United (10th)

The rising force versus the giant many suspect is past its best. The nouveau riche against the old guard. Manchester City‘s Carlos Tevez against the crosstown rival he left.Sadly, Manchester United‘s Wayne Rooney looks like he will not be fit in time to face the team widely reputed to have tapped him up over the summer. Nonetheless, even to the most uninformed neutral, this has ‘classic’ written all over it. Obviously, it will now be a dull 0-0 draw …

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

3. Abu Dhabi GP (14th)

With only the Brazilian Grand Prix to come first, the Formula 1 season finale in Abu Dhabi promises to be a winner-takes-all showdown to decide the outcome of the 2010 drivers’ championship. Fernando Alonso now leads the title race for the first time since Australia, the second race of the year, by a slender 11-point advantage from Mark Webber, with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel still in with an outside chance if results go their way. How will the closest title race in 25 years end up? Barring a freak result at Interlagos, we will not know for sure until the chequered flag falls at the Yas Marina circuit. It will be fast. It will be furious. And, being F1, you can be sure there will be drama.

4. Arsenal vs Tottenham (20th)

The two North London clubs have already met once this season, at White Hart Lane in the Carling Cup, with Arsenal running out 4-1 winners. But the first half of their Premier League double-header will see the tension and the stakes ramped up several notches. Tottenham have not won at Arsenal in the league since May 1993, and with both sides in the thick of the battle for the Champions League spots again this season, the outcome of this game will represent more than just local bragging rights.

5. First Ashes Test (25th-29th)

Having regained The Ashes last summer, England travel Down Under to defend the trophy in a five-Test series which starts at the end of this month and continues until the first week of January. Despite injury and form worries, England will travel in the knowledge that they are now ranked above Ricky Ponting‘s rebuilding side in the ICC Test rankings. It promises to be a closely contested series, with plenty of not-so-gentle banter already being exchanged between the two teams a month in advance of the first ball being bowled. As ever, there will be plenty of twists and turns as the contest unfolds.

My sporting month: October 2010

October is a busy month in the sporting calendar, with its opening weekend in particular crammed full of potential highlights from all over the world – two of them taking place in Melbourne.

Here are five of the events which I will be looking out for over the next 31 days, with an honourable mention to three others which will struggle to compete for my personal airtime in what looks set to be a jam-packed month of intense – and hopefully exciting – sporting action.

1. AFL Grand Final replay (2nd)

For only the third time in the history of Aussie Rules, last Saturday’s Grand Final between Collingwood and St Kilda ended in a tie, 68-68, after St Kilda overturned a 24-point second half deficit.

Tomorrow’s replay of the final at the MCG promises to be equally tense. It is a long time since either club has enjoyed the privilege of being reigning Premiers – Collingwood’s last Grand Final win was in 1990, St Kilda’s in 1966 (when they defeated Collingwood in the final).

Philippe Gilbert

2. UCI Road World Championships: Men’s road race (3rd)

Cycling’s annual championships in Geelong and Melbourne actually started on Wednesday – Great Britain’s Emma Pooley won the women’s time trial – but the highlight will be the closing event, the men’s road race, which takes place on Sunday. The riders will tackle a 262.7 km course with a tricky uphill finish which may favour Classics strong men over pure sprinters like Mark Cavendish.

Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert, winner of this year’s Amstel Gold race and of two stages in last month’s Vuelta a España, will feature among the favourites for what promises to be an open race.

For further analysis of the contenders for the race, read Jack Sargeant’s preview over at The Sports Review.

3. Premier League: Chelsea vs Arsenal (3rd) and Man City vs Arsenal (24th)

After last weekend’s shock home defeat to West Brom, Arsenal face two tough Premier League away trips this month, travelling first to Chelsea on Sunday and then to Manchester City, who dealt the champions their first defeat of the season last week.

Arsène Wenger‘s side suffered heavy losses in both these fixtures last season. After these two games we will have a good idea whether they are in better shape to mount a credible title run this year.

Mark Webber (image courtesy of formula1.com)

Championship leader Mark Webber

4. Formula 1: Japanese GP (10th) and Korean GP (24th)

With a potential 100 points still available from the four remaining races and just 25 separating current championship leader Mark Webber from fifth-placed Jenson Button, there is still everything to play for as one of the tightest F1 seasons of all time approaches its climax.

Ferrari‘s Fernando Alonso currently has the greatest momentum, having won three of the last five races (including the last two). By contrast, Lewis Hamilton will be desperate to reignite his title challenge, having crashed out of the last two races.

Meanwhile, the entire F1 circus will wait with bated breath to see whether or not the new Korean GP will actually go ahead as planned, with the organisers struggling to get the new track complete in time.

5. San Francisco 49ers vs Denver Broncos (31st)

After an unbeaten preseason, the 49ers have started 0-3 and already parted company with their offensive co-ordinator. Mike Singletary‘s team will need a good run over the next four games if they are to arrive for the NFL‘s fourth regular season game in the UK with their playoff hopes still intact. Their opponents at Wembley, the Denver Broncos, are 1-2 after a difficult start, so both teams will desperately need to win this repeat of Super Bowl XXIV (which the Joe Montana-led 49ers won 55-10).

The game will be covered live on Sky Sports, with highlights shown on the BBC. 80,000-plus fans will be there on the day; I’ll be one of them.

I have omitted (at least) three other major events from this month’s list, which I will at least follow in some capacity. Golf‘s Ryder Cup runs from today through to Sunday at Celtic Manor in Wales. The 19th Commonwealth Games, despite its much-publicised problems and the withdrawal of many competitors, will nonetheless start in Delhi on the 3rd and continue until the 14th. And finally, baseball‘s World Series is scheduled to start on the 27th.

Like I said, it’s a jam-packed month. Enjoy.

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