The details of Manchester United’s latest totally inevitable comeback against Aston Villa dominates the sports headlines this morning. Twitter went a bit crazy about the whole thing, but once the whirlwind of praise/indignant disbelief died down, it left United with a four point cushion at the top of the league and moved them into the Evens favourite for league title number 20.
It’s significant because their two title rivals face tough games today so there’s no guarantee that lead will be any smaller by 6pm today. Manchester City face Tottenham in today’s early kick off. The champions are odds on to beat their visitors, but such has been the Jekyll and Hyde form of Spurs, it’s hard to know what to expect.
At 4pm, Chelsea welcome Liverpool to Stamford Bridge. Well, we say ‘welcome’ but it’ll be more abusive chants and mocking about Scouse stereotypes. John Terry will return after his four match suspension, but Roberto di Matteo will be without stalwarts, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard.
Elsewhere, Newcastle host West Ham United as Andy Carroll returns to Tyneside and that flimsy segue is enough to mention this hilarious letter sent to Dear Deirdre in The Sun.
There are just three matches left in the 2012 ATP season, but what a three games they promise to be. After securing his place in the semi-finals on Friday evening, Andy Murray yesterday found out that Roger Federer would be his opponent in the last four of the ATP World Tour Finals. The Swiss six time winner of the event lost to Juan Martin del Potro on Saturday, but his superior ‘sets difference’ (like goal difference, but for tennis) ensured he topped the table and meets Murray at the O2. Despite only being the runner up in his group, Murray is the 8/11 favourite to book his place in the final.
On the other side of the tournament, Novak Djokovic faces the aforementioned Del Potro and that’s reckoned to be a little more one-sided. The world number one is the 1/4 to progress, but the 3/1 available for the in-form Argentine will certainly tempt a few punters.
And don’t worry if you’re not near the telly because all the games are being streamed live on PPtv.
The Autumn Internationals are generally a chance for the teams of the Six Nations to pretend they’re as good as their southern rivals, but wasn’t universally the case on Saturday. England and France recorded resounding wins over Fiji and Australia respectively, but Ireland and Wales suffered disappointing defeats.
In Dublin, South Africa eventually got the better of Ireland, but it was the manner of the defeat that will be particularly galling for Declan Kidney. The hosts went in at half-time with a 12-3 lead, but were held scoreless in the second half as the Boks ran out 16-12 winners. On the back of a disappointing tour to New Zealand and World Cup, the pressure on the head coach is starting to mount.
In Cardiff, Wales are licking their wounds after being handed a shock thumping from Argentina. Losing to the Pumas is far from the indignity it once was, but the margin of defeat will sound some alarm bells for the reigning Grand Slam champions. Again, it was a strong second half performance from the visitors that made the difference with Argentina out-scoring their hosts 20-3 in the closing 40 minutes.
Today, it’s Scotland’s chance to represent the northern hemisphere with pride, but they face New Zealand, so don’t hold your breath. The All Blacks are unbeaten since becoming world champions 12 months ago, but there is the somewhat debatable incentive of becoming rugby’s unofficial world champions for Scotland should they win today. The football wing of the Tartan Army liked to claim they were the real world champions after being the first team to beat world champions England after their 1966 World Cup win, so there are some vague parallels.
It’s not a likely scenario according to the odds however, The All Blacks are 1/100 to win in Murrayfield, with the hosts available at 20/1. The handicap is a more enticing prospect with Andy Robinson’s team available +26 points at Evens.