20-02-2019 Is Tottenham's run of 30 league games without a draw a record? | The Knowledge

Plus: Old Trafford’s mysterious semi-final snub, back-to-back penalty misses and unused subs. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU“Tottenham have currently played 30 consecutive Premier League games without drawing one,” notes Wouter van Dael. “What is the longest ever such league run?”The short answer is that Spurs are Premier League record-breakers, Wouter, but only just. “Bolton previously held this title with a run of 28 games between March and December 2011,” writes James Clarke. “But in the wider context of English league history, Spurs have a long way to go yet. Twenty-nine clubs have had longer streaks without a draw at some point – and seven have gone more than 40 consecutive league games without a stalemate: Birmingham (43 games), Walsall (44), Leicester (44), Bradford Park Avenue (44), Stoke (46), Sunderland (46) and Aston Villa (51). Although it is probably worth noting that Sunderland’s is the most recent of these, coming comparatively recently in 1908-09. The slightly interesting quirk here is that five of these seven draw-less clubs are midlands teams.Season 2017-1830 Apr Spurs 2-0 Watford5 May West Brom 1-0 Spurs9 May Spurs 1-0 Newcastle13 May Spurs 5-4 Leicester Continue reading...

20-02-2019 David Squires on … Chelsea's humiliation at Manchester City

Our resident cartoonist on Maurizio Sarri’s dismay, Mike Dean and a man trying to wear trousers as a jumperTake a look through David’s archive of cartoons Continue reading...

20-02-2019 Football transfer rumours: Stoke to offload Saido Berahino after arrest?

Today’s fluff is here, at leastTottenham Hotspur are planning to abandon their recent policy of not signing any new players by dipping into the market next summer. A spanking new defender is high on Mauricio Pochettino’s shopping list and the name of Real Betis’s Aïssa Mandi is being named in dispatches. A right-back who can fill in at centre-back if required, the 27-year-old Algerian international is also inching his way across Arsenal’s radar.According to reports in Spain, Unai Emery is also interested in signing Éver Banega from Sevilla. The reformed party boy is a firm favourite of Arsenal’s Spanish manager, who coached him at both Valencia and Sevilla, and more recently tried unsuccessfully to bring him to the Emirates in January. Contracted to Sevilla until 2020, the 30-year-old Argentinian midfielder is valued at about £17m. Continue reading...

20-02-2019 Chelsea fans don’t often have time to turn on a manager – this felt decisive | Jonathan Wilson

Maurizio Sarri is serving up predictable, sterile football and some choices are hard to fathom but Chelsea share the blame for this messChelsea fans don’t often turn on their manager. They don’t usually have time. But there, distinct in the cool February air, just six days before they play in a cup final, it was: “Fuck Sarri-ball! Fuck Sarri-ball! Fuck Sarri-ball!” Add in the booing at the final whistle and the chants for Callum Hudson‑Odoi throughout the second half and it’s fair to say the Matthew Harding Stand has made its mind up about Maurizio Sarri.Fans are not always right, of course, as a notorious Old Trafford bedsheet of the late 80s makes clear, and boards must make their own decisions, but this nonetheless felt a decisive moment. Stamford Bridge turned on André Villas-Boas and it didn’t like Rafa Benítez from the start, but outright revolt against a manager is unusual. Continue reading...

20-02-2019 Liverpool and Bayern Munich trade blows but draw leaves tie poised

Jürgen Klopp’s prediction of a “blockbuster” between two five-times champions of Europe proved misplaced. His warning about the enduring strength of old adversaries Bayern Munich did not. Wise heads rather than old legs told for the German champions as Liverpool were frustrated at home for the first time in this season’s Champions League. They will hope for greater adventure from Niko Kovac’s team at the Allianz Arena and to punish it. Related: Liverpool need more courage to beat Bayern Munich, says Jürgen Klopp Continue reading...

20-02-2019 Sri Lanka v England: Pick your England team for first Test

Who do you think should be in the England side for the first Test against Sri Lanka? Choose your XI and share it with your friends.

20-02-2019 Wales gladiator Alun Wyn Jones rages against the dying of the light | Robert Kitson

With his 132nd Test on Saturday the captain will move within 16 caps of Richie McCaw – and England should expect to be hit by an elemental forceSome statistics in rugby are barely worth collating. The “most carries” column, for example, does not necessarily reveal whether a player had a good or even a moderate all-round game. “Metres made” does not show the speed or subtle angles at which they were covered. The number of passes a team makes matters less than their accuracy, their timing and how often they split the opposing defence.One list, however, never lies. It remains the original and the truest measure of a player’s ultimate worth: how often was he or she deemed good enough to represent their national side? To play international rugby even once is an achievement; to play it virtually non-stop for well over a decade, collecting more than a century of caps and multiple trophies, is to enter the realms of the superhuman. Continue reading...

20-02-2019 RFU appoints BOA's Bill Sweeney as new chief executive

Sweeney replaces interim CEO Nigel Melville‘This is the only opportunity I would have left the BOA for’The Rugby Football Union has appointed Bill Sweeney as its new chief executive. Sweeney has spent five and a half years as the British Olympic Association’s chief executive and, while he has little rugby experience, does have a proven commercial track record and will be charged with guiding the RFU out of financial turmoil.Sweeney replaces Steve Brown, whose shock resignation after 14 months in the job last November came amid growing criticism of the RFU’s parlous financial state. Shortly before his departure the RFU announced a £30.9m loss following 62 redundancies. Continue reading...

20-02-2019 Gordon Banks on ‘the greatest save ever made’ – video obituary

England's World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks has died at the age of 81. Banks played 73 times for England and was a key figure in Sir Alf Ramsey's legendary 1966 side. However it's Banks's twisting save from Brazilian superstar Pelé that he is often best remembered for, a save deemed 'one of the greatest feats of goalkeeping'Gordon Banks, World Cup winner with England in 1966, dies aged 81 Continue reading...

20-02-2019 'Rugby's like a chessboard with 120kg pieces' - how virtual reality could transform training

Painstaking research, virtual reality and holding the tackle bags in training... an insight into how a top rugby analyst operates.

20-02-2019 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ribs Alan Shearer about 1999 FA Cup final defeat

Manchester United's caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reminds Alan Shearer about the 1999 FA Cup final in which both men played, when the Red Devils beat Newcastle United 2-0.

20-02-2019 Klinsmann received $3.35m settlement after he was fired by US Soccer

Coach was fired after string of disappointing resultsUSA failed to reach World Cup 2018 after poor campaignJürgen Klinsmann received a $3.35m settlement of his contract with the US Soccer Federation, according to the USSF’s tax filing. His replacement, Bruce Arena, was given a $300,000 settlement during the fiscal year that ended on 31 March 2018, according to the filing, which was released on Monday.Klinsmann was hired in 2011 and in December 2013 was given a contract extension through to December 2018. He was fired in November 2016 after struggling in the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup. The exact contract settlement was $3,354,167, the tax filing said. Continue reading...

20-02-2019 Presenting Percy may run this weekend despite owner’s caution

• Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite could run at Fairyhouse• Philip Reynolds being ‘ultra, ultra careful’ with the horseThe need to be “ultra, ultra careful” with the horse of a lifetime was behind the late decision not to run Presenting Percy last weekend but there is still a 50% chance, according to his owner, that the rarely sighted Magners Gold Cup favourite could run this weekend. Philip Reynolds dismissed any suggestion of a problem affecting his star on the same day that another horse he owns, Tin Soldier, was dramatically cut in the market for another Cheltenham Festival race, the Pertemps Final.Along with the reclusive Athenry-based trainer Pat Kelly, Reynolds has been a winner at the last three Festivals, thanks to the efforts of Mall Dini and Presenting Percy. It is an incredible record at the sport’s biggest race meeting for previously low-profile connections and they now appear to have bright prospects of extending that run in three weeks’ time. Continue reading...

20-02-2019 Scotland lose injured Finn Russell as France drop Lopez and Parra

Coach Brunel denies backlash after criticism from half-backsRussell is ruled out after failing to pass head injury protocolsFinn Russell has been ruled out of Scotland’s Guinness Six Nations clash with France on Saturday after failing to recover from a head injury he suffered playing for his club Racing 92 over the weekend. Related: Ellis Genge hoping to be the man with a dragon tattoo Continue reading...

20-02-2019 Wales’s 1969 wing wizard Maurice Richards: ‘I scored the tries but forwards won it’

The scourge of England in Cardiff 50 years ago looks back on a thrilling victory in which he ran in four tries and explains why he switched codes at the end of that yearThey used to say the wind blew hardest at Cardiff Arms Park when it was trying to catch Maurice Richards. It had no more success than the England team that arrived in the Welsh capital 50 years ago chasing a share of the Five Nations title but left resembling the rubble where the north stand had been. Richards ran in four tries in a thrilling 30-9 victory that afternoon, equalling a Wales record that still stands. Wales scooped the triple crown and the championship.That afternoon’s demolition of England was the start of a golden era for the men in red, but before the end of the year the 24-year-old Cardiff wing, a 1968 Lion who had still to reach his peak, had left Wales and his job at Port Talbot steelworks for rugby league, where he would become Salford’s record try scorer and appearance holder in a 14-year career. Continue reading...

20-02-2019 England must pick Jofra Archer - Nasser Hussain

England should pick Jofra Archer once he becomes qualified as they build up to hosting this summer's World Cup, says Nasser Hussain.

20-02-2019 Maurizio Sarri: I haven't spoken to Abramovich for three weeks – video

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri admitted he has not spoken with club owner Roman Abramovich since his side's record-breaking 6-0 loss to Manchester City – or for the weeks leading up to that result.The Italian has come under pressure after a string of poor results that has seen Chelsea slip to sixth in the league. Continue reading...

20-02-2019 Chelsea stick with Maurizio Sarri for now but manager on thin ice

• Sarri to take charge against Malmö and Manchester City• Roman Abramovich will decide whether to sack ItalianMaurizio Sarri will take charge of Chelsea’s Europa League tie at home against Malmö on Thursday and is set to continue as manager for the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday, although another defeat by Pep Guardiola’s side at Wembley could lead to his dismissal.The 6-0 loss at City this month and the embarrassing FA Cup exit against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Monday that prompted home supporters to turn on the Italian have left Sarri clinging to his job after less than a season. The 60-year-old was given a month for results to improve after the defeat at the Etihad Stadium, and the 2-1 win against Malmö in the first leg of their last-32 tie last week offered some respite. But that proved brief given the performance against United and the reaction of large numbers of Chelsea’s supporters, who chanted “Fuck Sarri-ball” and eventually joined in with the United fans’ refrain of: “You’re getting sacked in the morning.” Continue reading...

20-02-2019 Refereeing of women’s football needs work. Here is the plan to tackle it | Suzanne Wrack

Full-time officials for Women’s Super League and a fast-track pathway for female referees are among the ideasConsider these three incidents: the Chelsea midfielder Drew Spence cynically scything down Arsenal’s Kim Little, breaking one of Little’s legs, but picking up only a yellow card; David McNamara’s rock, paper, scissors debacle; and Phil Neville questioning two penalty shouts and a disallowed goal against Australia.This season the standard of refereeing in the women’s game has been under the microscope. Except now, with a fully professional top division and more televised coverage than ever, there are a lot more eyes peering through that microscope. Continue reading...