Football transfer rumours: Suso to Spurs or Arsenal? De Ligt to Man City?

Today’s fluff is warming up nicelyNow that Tottenham no longer plan to spend half of their cash on an executive cheese room at the new White Hart Lane, they can make more room in their budget for football stuff. That means they can buy some new training bibs, take muddy kits to the launderette after every game, make sure that everyone has shin pads, get enough half-time oranges for the whole team and give Son Heung-min a new contract worth a whopping £150,000 a week. Hooray! Let the good times roll! Related: Sergio Ramos facing Champions League ban for intentional booking at Ajax Continue reading...

16-02-2019

The Spin | Sheer pace is sheer bliss though fast bowlers often blow hot and cold

Mark Wood’s Sunday spell in St Lucia was a refreshing reminder of how pace bowling turns a slow game into a fast oneThere are certain words that are crying out to have “sheer” in front of them. Sheer bliss. Sheer lunacy. Sheer pace.In cricket, sheer pace is sheer bliss, as long as it’s on your side. In St Lucia on Sunday evening England, who had been blown away in the first two Tests by a resurgent West Indies attack, finally produced a riposte. Mark Wood came on after 20 overs, when the game is inclined to nod off, and suddenly every delivery carried an electric charge. Bowling to Shai Hope, Wood beat the bat outside off stump with his first ball, and his second, and his third. The fourth was a bouncer, which Hope wisely ducked. The little box on the screen that clocks the bowler’s speed showed 145kph, or 90mph. A stiff breeze was helping, but then Wood, so often kept off the field by a dodgy ankle, deserved a fair wind. Continue reading...

16-02-2019

Time to stand tall for Ashes: Root, Stokes, Burns and Wood can be key

Joe Root and Ben Stokes are more important than ever for England this summer while Rory Burns and Mark Wood may also step up“Cut off the head and the rest will follow” was a phrase often used in the dressing room of the great West Indies sides of the 80s. Their fast bowlers would make a point of targeting the opposition captain in the (usually justified) expectation that this would cause maximum distress. On this tour they managed this most successfully. After two Tests Joe Root had scored 55 runs. In Antigua the England captain received two brutish deliveries, which he could do little about. Job done. Series won. Continue reading...

16-02-2019

PSG and Dortmund sing it with pride as home crowds wallow in age of rage | Barney Ronay

Noisy away ends at Old Trafford and Wembley offered something of a throwback to several decades ago when fans revelled in their own identity rather than disdain for others’There was an exciting announcement this week about a new style of shoe “inspired by 1980s terrace culture”. The idea behind the new shoe, an Adidas press release explained, is to capture the sights and sounds of English football 30 years ago. And who knows, it could work out well. Perhaps the new Adidas Widespread Racism will go on to become a huge hit.This is of course a joke. The new shoe isn’t called the Adidas Widespread Racism. That would be ridiculous. Not to mention an insult to the hard-working team of marketeers and product developers behind the Adidas Piss Stink and its companion shoe, the Adidas Dart In The Eye. Continue reading...

16-02-2019

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...

16-02-2019

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.

16-02-2019

Root joins Murray and Southgate in standing up for social tolerance | Tim de Lisle

England captain has done cricket a great service – his reaction to a perceived homophobic remark was cool, calm, collected … and rightCricketers call it sledging, or chirping: the business of trying to undermine your opponent with verbal abuse. It’s a dismal habit that shows us sport at its most small-minded and should have been banned long ago. But this week it has done the world a favour.In the Test in St Lucia, the West Indies bowler Shannon Gabriel was bad-mouthing the England captain, Joe Root. What Gabriel said the stump microphone did not catch but it did bring us Root’s reply: “Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay.” Continue reading...

16-02-2019

Welsh Open: Stuart Bingham beats Joe O'Connor to reach final

Stuart Bingham ends Joe O'Connor's run at the Welsh Open to reach Sunday's final.

16-02-2019

The Fiver | Unfit to face inferior players who have hardly run a lap since Christmas

Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now!Buoyed, cheered and generally heartened by the sight of Tottenham Hotspur piling some Big Cup hurt on German league leaders Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night, Arsenal fans can look forward to some fun of their own when their team goes toe to toe with the works team of a tractor factory in Belarus tonight in Euro Vase. Bate Borisov are the opposition in the first knockout round and while most of their players are unknown outside their native country, there will at least be one recognisable face among the ranks. Continue reading...

16-02-2019

The Breakdown | Bold England are contenders for World Cup but don’t write off Ireland

Eddie Jones’s positive selection and tactics in Dublin showed his side have hunger and desire, while Joe Schmidt’s team have overcome adversity beforeEddie Jones has been around long enough to appreciate that destiny lies at the end of a road blighted with potholes and misleading signposts. After his greatest triumph on Saturday he was gracious in victory, 11 months after he had been booed by some home supporters at Twickenham after Ireland had secured the Grand Slam there.“They are a top team,” he said of Ireland, the world’s form country in 2018 who had been systematically taken apart by England. And they are. Just as England found last year after two years of barely uninterrupted success under Jones, nothing feeds the appetite of an ambitious team like a setback. Continue reading...

16-02-2019

Mauricio Pochettino: Spurs can win 'every single game' in the Champions League – video

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino believes his side's league form since December shows they can beat "any team" in the Champions League, as Spurs prepare for the first leg of their last 16 clash with Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.Spurs ready for Champions League and Dortmund – then a much-needed break Continue reading...

16-02-2019