The week that was – FA Cup

News

VAR controversy

Image courtesy: Goal.com

It seems no matter what country it is being used in, VAR is causing a lot of havoc. The technology was used twice in the match between Liverpool and West Brom. First it was used to rule out an early West Brom goal from Craig Dwason for offside.

It was then used on the pitch-side monitor by referee Craig Pawson – the first time the on-field review has occurred in English football – to change his decision and award a penalty to Liverpool, after Jake Livermore fouled Mohamed Salah. Fortunately for West Brom, Roberto Firmino missed his spot kick.

After the game Baggies manager Alan Pardew said the first goal would not have been disallowed without VAR’s intervention.

Pardew also complained that nobody watching in the stadium knew what was happening.

“In the stadium it was bizarre,” Pardew told the BBC. “There’s no screen for us. It’s not like tennis, we were completely in the dark.”

Sooky Pep cries foul

For a man on top of the league, Pep Guardiola sure does complain a lot. The Manchester City manager has urged the referees to protect the players more after it was reported Leroy Sane will be out for two to four weeks with an ankle injury, following a physical tackle from Cardiff full-back Joe Bennett.

“It’s his ankle. I have said many times – the only thing they [the officials] have to do is protect the players,” Guardiola told the BBC.

“But please protect the players. Not the Manchester City players, [all] the players. The only thing they can do is that: protect the players. Or it will happen again. The players are the artists and you have to take care of them. That’s why you are here and why I’m here. For them, the players.”

It’s not the only topic Guardiola has complained about this week. The Spaniard said he has been restrained from making big money purchases by Manchester City’s budget.

“Their salaries we cannot pay. There are budgets for the transfers and we cannot pay. In the future, it may change but we haven’t paid more than £80m-£100m for one player. We cannot pay that right now, it is the truth.”

In Guardiola’s two seasons at the club, Manchester City have spent A$639 million on player acquisitions, more than Manchester United have spent in that time. Three of the five biggest transfer fees paid for defenders have been by Guardiola at City. The Sky Blues are also about to spend close to A$100 million on Athletic Bilbao centre-back Aymeric Laporte.

I think I will end the argument with the words of Cardiff manager Neil Warnock.

“City dished out a bit, as well. He [Guardiola] is in England. What do you expect? I suppose when you’re like that you want everything to be nice and pretty but you don’t get that in England. You get different challenges, don’t you?”

Gunners edge closer to Aubameyang

Arsenal are close to finalising a deal for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The deal is believed to be in the region of A$105 million and will allow Oliver Giroud to move to Chelsea.

Aubameyang has netted 13 goals in the Bundesliga this season and will be expected to link up with former Dortmund colleage Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Results

Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 Reading

Yeovil Town 0-4 Manchester United

Peterborough 1-5 Leicester

Southampton 1-0 Watford

MK Dons 0-1 Coventry

Hull City 2-1 Nottingham Forest

Millwall 2-2 Rochdale

Sheffield United 1-0 Preston North End

Middlesbrough 0-1 Brighton

Huddersfield 1-1 Birmingham

Notts County 1-1 Swansea

Wigan 2-0 West Ham

Newport County 1-1 Tottenham

Liverpool 2-3 West Brom

Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle

Cardiff 0-2 Manchester City

Sir Alex Ferguson award

The Sir Alex Ferguson of the week is awarded to the best-performed team of the week.

West Brom

West Brom have had a difficult time in the Premier League this season, but their form in the FA Cup has been a highlight. Liverpool went into the tie with a 19-game unbeaten home record. The Baggies on the other hand entered the match sitting last in the Premier League and had lost 12 of their 20 away matches. In a match filled with controversy – courtesy of VAR, West Brom held on for a 3-2 victory. Former Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez was the hero netting two goals.

Bebe of the week

Bebe is widely considered Sir Alex Ferguson’s worst ever signing. The Bebe award is given to the most disappointing team from the week.

Liverpool

How can you not go past Loserpool (sorry I mean Liverpool). The Reds are the gift that keeps on giving. With the thrilling three up front and a A$122 million defender in the team, the Reds were expected to easily account for a side sitting bottom of the Premier League. But as is the case, the Reds failed to land the knock out punch and have now been knocked out of the FA Cup in the fourth round for the fourth consecutive year under Jurgen Klopp. Ironically the man who tormented the Reds was former Southampton player Jay Rodriguez. Liverpool have purchased six players from the Saints since 2014, yet the one player they didn’t purchase was the one who single handily beat them. Maybe Rodriguez will be in Liverpool’s summer transfer plans.

Player of the week

Will Grigg

West Ham’s defence was terrified because Will Grigg was on fire. The man with the best chant in world football has been a revelation in the FA Cup, scoring six goals in four games. Grigg scored both of Wigan’s goals to send the Hammers packing from the cup. Hopefully Grigg continues to perform so us fans can keep singing his song.

Sportdot goal of the week

Jesse Lingard

Could Lingard be a bolter for the Ballon d’Or? The Manchester United star has been a revelation this season, becoming a first team starter and scoring 12 goals in all competitions. Lingard has always had the knack of scoring stunning goals and his run and shot against Yeovil Town is Messi-esque. Watch him be a star at the World Cup.

Retro clip

1973 FA Cup Final

Mighty Leeds United were the reigning FA Cup holders when they came up against Second Division Sunderland in the 1973 FA Cup Final. Ian Porterfield first half strike gave the Black Cats the lead and Leeds responded but throwing everything at goalkeeper Jim Montgomery.

Montgomery stood tall and produced one of the best goalkeeping displays ever seen, with the highlight being an amazing double save.

When the full time whistle sounded, Sunderland manager Bob Stokoe ran on to the pitch to celebrate, a celebration that has been captured in a stature at the Stadium of Light.

One of the true football fairy tales.

NBA Sitrep – Disaster for DeMarcus, Jason Kidd fired and where is the Love?

A weekly post wrapping up all the action from around the association over the last seven days.

Tragedy strikes for Cousins and Pelicans

The Pelicans just can’t shake the dreaded injury curse.

After Davis’s sketchy history with injury, they have now lost All-Star centre DeMarcus Cousins for the remainder of the season with a ruptured Achilles.

Cousins sustained the injury after following his own free-throw miss with seconds remaining in the Pelicans clash against Houston.

Cousins was just months away from likely making his first playoff appearance, as Davis will now be forced to carry the Pelicans dwindling playoff hopes.

The injury is a shattering blow for New Orleans, who had won eight of their last ten contests and surged into the sixth seed in the West.

Cousins was having a career year, averaging 25.2 points per game, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists through his 48 games.

Andre Roberson will also miss the remainder of the season after he suffered a ruptured patellar tendon against the Detroit Pistons.

https://twitter.com/MeanMugSports/status/957405845242990593

Despite his limited offensive ability, Roberson was having another stellar defensive season and was in line for a first-team All-Defense selection.

All-Star teams locked and loaded

I’m sure the All-Star draft was great, but unfortunately that’s about all anyone can say.

The NBA stuck behind their decision to keep the draft a secret, despite strong pushes from fans, media and even certain players to televise the draft.

Paul George will replace DeMarcus Cousins for Team LeBron, which also features Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook.

Team Steph is headlined by the Greek Freak, James Harden, Joel Embiid and DeMar Derozen.

As for who held the honour of the last pick, well at least Love is honest.

Next year, please televise it NBA.

All Outta Love

It’s been a rough week for Kevin Love.

An illness saw him leave the court early as the Cavaliers got trounced by the Thunder and kept him sidelined for the Cavs practice the next day.

Then the reports started to filter in about an explosive team meeting.

According to the Cavs their team meeting was not nearly as demonstrative as reported. Which is why I’m also guessing it was a complete coincidence that Crowder just momentarily lost peripheral vision and missed Loves outstretched hand.

Then Kevin began plotting his revenge.

He threw his jumper on Jeff Green’s face, who didn’t seem particularly amused.

He then skied over Isaiah Thomas to grab a rebound and handed the ball to him with significant distain.

Cue the Kevin Love trade rumours.

Are you Kidding me?

Jason Kidd’s time with the Bucks is officially over as he was sacked early last week.

The Bucks have struggled this season, despite the presence of Antetokounmpo, and sit in the sixth seed with a 26-22 record.

Kidd took the Bucks to the playoffs twice, but was knocked out in the first round both times.

Assistant Joe Prunty is serving as interim head coach and has led the Bucks to three straight wins since Kidd’s departure.

Sliders/Risers

standings week 3Photo credit: ESPN

Riser

It’s taken half a season, but the Thunder are finally clicking into gear. They have won eight on the trot, which sees them jump into fifth in the West, just one game behind the Timberwolves. The leagues largest winning streak has seen them knock off the 76ers, Pistons, Wizards and Cavaliers. This has been an up and down season for Westbrook and the Thunder, but they finally look to be bringing the offense to complement their stellar defense.

Slider

The Celtics are currently in a mini-slump, losing five of their last six contests. They have fallen to the Pelicans, 76ers, Magic, Lakers and Warriors over the stretch, with the only victory coming against the Clippers. Kyrie Irving is not worried about the string of losses, responding to reporters with “you gotta hit some adversity. We have to hit something. Like we need it as a team.” The Celtics are still the top seed in the East and will look to rediscover their winning ways against the Nuggets tomorrow.

Heat Check

Stephen Curry

vs. Knicks – 32 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 8 made three-pointers

vs. Timberwolves – 25 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals

vs. Celtics – 49 points, 5 assists, 2 steals, 8 made three-pointers

Since returning from his ankle injury, Curry has been ripping teams to shreds with his dazzling shooting. His duel against Kyrie Irving (who had 39 points of his own) was a teaser of what we could see come June. After a slow start to the season, Curry has now charged into the MVP discussion with the likes of Harden and LeBron.

Highlights 

It was a week of milestones for some of the games greats.

LeBron joined an elite group as he crossed the 30,000 mark with this jumper.

Melo became just the 21st man to reach the 25,000 point milestone.

DeAaron Fox defied gravity with this game-winning putback slam.

Your weekly reminder that Giannis is very good at basketball.

Joel Embiid is a bad, bad man.

Whoopsie Watch 

It’s been that kind of season for the Knicks.

Should have let the point guard bring the ball up Lauri.

Jeff Hornacek lets it fly from Steph Curry range.

Stephen Curry – Addition through Subtraction

Steph Curry steadied into a rhythm dribble as a nervous hush fell over Chesapeake Arena. The clock ticked down on an overtime thriller between two of the NBA’s best, but Curry was about to add another chapter to the masterpiece. A mere handful of steps over the half-court line, Curry flung an incredible dagger into the Oklahoma sky as the ball ripped the nylon and Thunder hearts. Curry was left in sheer jubilation as commentators searched for the words to do justice to the incredible feat.

It was simply another highlight on the crazy ride that was Curry’s 2015/16 unanimous MVP campaign. In arguably the greatest shooting season of all time, Curry put up absurd percentages from all over the court. However, it was his long-range shooting ability that became his trademark.

Time and time again Curry would unleash a three-point barrage from uncharted territory on a basketball court. He stretched defenses to breaking point with his unmatched gravity and left entire stadiums in silence with his breathtaking shooting displays.

It’s almost two years since Curry’s signature game-winner against the Thunder and while Steph is still Steph, there is a noticeable difference to the now two-time MVP.

Familiarity has become Curry’s main nemesis.

The shock and awe of Curry’s exploits have become expected. He has set the bar so high that even incredible performances can pale into a shrugged shoulder and ‘yeah that’s Steph for you’ tagline.

After a slight drop in his numbers last year, largely due to the acclimatisation of Kevin Durant, Curry is producing another MVP caliber season.

Curry’s game and success is still predominantly based around his three-point wizardry. He leads the league in three-pointers made per game, while connecting on over 43% of his attempts. Since his return from the scary ankle injury that saw him sidelined for 11 games, Curry has connected on over 50% of his attempts from beyond the arc.

He is still the same lethal gun-slinger, but Curry has added a new weapon to his arsenal. Or to be more specific, he has added another layer to his game, by taking away one of his trademark moves.

Curry spent most of his unanimous MVP season re-writing the definition of bad shot selection. The lasers that Curry would fire from unguardable distances were terrible shots for every other player in the NBA.

On attempts from 30 feet and beyond, Curry shot 21-of-45 or just under 47%. That same season (2015-16) the rest of the league combined to make just 13% of those shots, even after you subtract the desperation heaves from outside of 35 feet. Nobody else in the league made more than three shots from 30 feet or beyond that season.

Not only was he lethal when he was set from beyond the arc, but Curry made over 50% of his pull-up triples in transition. He connected on 39-of-73 of the head-scratching threes that generally put the final touches on a devastating Warriors run.

Enter Stephen Curry – 2.0.

After a humbling campaign from beyond 30 feet last season, shooting just 13 of 54 (24%) on such attempts, Curry has almost entirely cut out the long-range bomb from his seemingly endless shot wheelhouse.

This season he is on pace to finish with roughly a third as many attempts from 30 feet or beyond than in his unanimous MVP campaign. More than twenty players sit above Curry when it comes to 30 plus footers attempted, in fact, Curry made more of the outrageous shots in three separate games in 2015/16 than in the entire season so far.

The steady diet of pull-up threes has also waned off, as Curry is on pace to take just 30 triples on the fast-break, compared to 73 two seasons ago.

The result of this shot selection shift has been profound. Curry has managed to use the unparalleled magnetism he still possesses to create opportunities in the mid-range and around the basket.

Put simply, Curry has become less breathtaking, but more efficient.

Curry leads the league in true shooting percentage (67.2%), which is ridiculous for a point-guard who takes over ten threes per game.

He is having a career year from inside the arc, tied with Karl Anthony Towns in seventh spot for two-point percentage in the league. The six players above him combine for an average height of 6-foot-10, while Curry is challenging the leagues tall-timber at 6-foot-3.

Curry is shooting 91% from the line and is getting to the charity stripe at a career-high rate. Prior to this season, Curry was averaging one free-throw for every 4.3 shot attempts. This season that number has nose-dived to one free-throw for every 2.6 shot attempts.

All of this and Curry is shooting 49% from the field (second highest mark of career), averaging 6.5 assists, grabbing 1.7 steals per contest and is putting up 28.1 points per game as he leads the Warriors to the best record in the NBA.

Curry is still legitimately in the MVP discussion, which considering he has missed 14 games this season through injury, highlights the magnitude of the campaign he is piecing together.

Curry is still the same dynamic scorer who can break a team’s back with a pull-up triple from the locker-room.

But he has refined his game and maximised his output through the threat of his shooting prowess.

Curry has used his unanimous MVP season to evolve into the player he is now.

In a scary proposition for the league, this may be the best version of Curry we have ever witnessed.

The version that is just as deadly from 10 feet as from 30. The one who might not dominate the highlight reel on a nightly basis, but is steering his team towards a fourth straight Finals appearance.

Less breathtaking, but more complete.

Addition through subtraction.

English Football Transfer Wrap (Week 4)

Ryan Loft – Tottenham to Exeter City (Loan)

Michal Zyro – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Charlton Athletic (Loan)

Matt Targett – Southampton to Fulham (Loan)

Mateusz Klich – Leeds United to FC Utrecht (Loan)

Kenny McLean – Aberdeen to Norwich City (A$357,460)

Kenny McLean – Norwich City to Aberdeen (Loan)

Erdal Rakip – Benfica to Crystal Palace (Loan)

Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal to Manchester United (Swap)

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Manchester United to Arsenal (Swap)

It is very rare to see swap deals in football but surely the Sanchez/Mkhitaryan swap is up their with Zlatan Ibrahimovic/Samuel Eto’o as the biggest swap deal of all time. Arsenal fans may not see it now, but in the long term the deal will end up being a win/win for both clubs. Sanchez was in the final six months of his contract and could have walked away from the club for free at the end of the season. Instead, Manchester United swapped Mkhitaryan for the Chilean star. Mkhitaryan had a horrid time under Mourinho but expect him to return to his best at Arsenal. The Armenian suits Arsenal’s passing style of play and if played in his preferred position of central attacking midfield, he will create numerous opportunities for Alexandre Lacazette or possibly Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Sanchez on the other hand will be given licence to cut in from the left or right wings at United. Given he is available for the Champions League, Sanchez’s arrival is a bargain in terms of todays transfer market.

Tommy Smith – Ipswich Town to Colorado Rapids (Undisclosed/Market value: A$2.38 million)

Ritchie de Laet – Aston Villa to Antwerp (Loan)

Kenedy – Chelsea to Newcastle United (Loan)

Jaroslaw Jach – Zaglebie Lubin to Crystal Palace (A$3.49 million)

Aaron Lennon – Everton to Burnley (Undisclosed/Market value: A$7.92 million)

Harry Souttar – Stoke to Ross County (Loan)

Paul Rooney – Millwall to Colchester United (Undisclosed) 

Shaun Miller – Carlisle United to Crewe Alexandra (Loan)

Lois Diony – St Etienne to Bristol City (Loan)

Kevin O’Connor – Preston North End to Fleetwood Town (Loan)

Jason Shackell – Derby County to Millwall (Loan)

Axel Tuanzebe – Manchester United to Aston Villa (Loan)

Onel Hernandez – TSV Eintracht Braunschweig to Norwich City (A$3.17 million)

Matthew Palmer – Burton Albion to Rotherham United (A$633,920)

Guido Carrillo – AS Monaco to Southampton (A$34 million)

Southampton paid a club record transfer fee to secure the exciting Carrillo from Monaco. The 18th placed Saints have found scoring difficult this season, netting only 24 goals in 24 games. Carrillo will need to hit the ground running to help the Saints avoid relegation. 

Dennis Srbeny – Paderborn to Norwich City (A$2.36 million)

Stephen Warnock – Burton Albion to Bradford City (Loan)

Matthew Lund – Burton Albion to Bradford City (Loan)

Bradford’s three signings – Matthew Lund, Ryan McGowan and Stephen Warnock. 

Ryan McGowan – Al-Sharjah to Bradford City (Free)

Australian international Ryan McGowan has swapped the UAE for Yorkshire in the quest to impress new Socceroo’s manager Bert van Marwijk. The 28-year-old defender arrives at Bradford on a free transfer, subject to an international clearance.

Mallik Wilks – Leeds United to Grimsby Town (Loan)

Joao Mario – Inter Milan to West Ham (Loan)

Jacob Bruun Larsen – Borussia Dortmund to VFB Stuttgart (Loan)

Darren Bent – Derby County to Burton Albion (Loan)

It’s a vast contrast from the big money moves that have highlighted Darren Bent’s career, but the move to Burton Albion could be just a pivotal. Bent – one of only 26 players to have netted more than 100 goals in the Premier League, arrives at the Brewers hoping to help the team avoid relegation from the Championship. The Brewers sit in last place, one point below safety. Scoring has been a struggle for the Brewers, who have netted 21 goals in 28 matches. But with vast experience and a knack for finding the net, Bent has the opportunity to become a club hero by helping the side avoid the drop.

Duckens Nazon – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Oldham Athletic (Loan)

Andy Firth – Liverpool to Chester FC (Loan)

Shaun Donnellan – West Brom to Yeovil Town (Free)

Tony Gallacher – Falkirk to Liverpool (A$358,000)

*Market value’s courtesy of Transfermarkt.co.uk 

 

The week that was in the Premier League – Matchweek 24

News

Alexis and Micki do a little switcharoo

Unless you have been living under a rock you would have heard that Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have switched teams. Sanchez joins Manchester United on a four-and-a-half year deal, earning A$877,000 a week. In an exclusive interview with Manchester United, Sanchez said he was thrilled to be joining the “biggest club in the world”.

“I am thrilled to be joining the biggest club in the world. I have spent three-and-a-half wonderful years at Arsenal and I bring with me very positive memories of that great club and its fans.”

“The chance to play in this historic stadium and to work with Jose Mourinho was something I could not turn down. I am very proud to be the first Chilean player ever to play for United’s first team and I hope I can show our fans all around the world why the club wanted to bring me here.”

After only 39 games over a season and a half at Manchester United, Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be looking to resurrect his career at Arsenal. Mkhitaryan was crowned Bundesliga Assist Leader in 2015/16 and has been voted Armenian Footballer of the Year eight times.

“I’m very happy that we could finish this deal and I’m very happy to be here. It’s a dream come true because I’ve always dreamed of playing for Arsenal. Now that I’m here, I’ll do my best for this club to create history,” Mkhitaryan said in an exclusive interview on the Arsenal website.

Both players will wear number 7 at their new clubs.

Marco Silva sacked by Watford

Credit: Sky Sports

It’s incredible to think a manager so highly regarded could be sacked so early in his tenure. But as is the case in modern football, Marco Silva is now looking for a new gig.

Silva made his desire known that he wanted the Everton job after only eight games in charge of Watford. At the time Watford were sitting fourth on the table. Since then the Hornets have slipped to 10th, winning one of their past 11 games.

Former Malaga manager Javi Gracia has been appointed Watford’s new coach on a 18 month deal.

The 47-year-old is the 10th manager to work for Watford under the Pozzo family since 2012.

Pioneer Regis passes away

Cyrille Regis, known as the pioneer for black footballers in Britain passed away aged 59. Regis began his career with West Brom in 1977, scoring two goals on debut against Rotherham United. At the Baggies, Regis played with fellow black players Laurie Cinningham and Brendon Batson. The three were given the nickname ‘Three Degree’s’ and were racially abused by opposition players and fans. Despite the abuse, the three became known as trailblazers and inspired the second generation of black footballers. Former Manchester United and Aston Villa striker Dion Dublin last week recalled the impact Regis had on his life.

Results

Brighton 0-4 Chelsea

West Ham 1-1 Bournemouth

Stoke 2-0 Huddersfield

Leicester 2-0 Watford

Everton 1-1 West Brom

Burnley 0-1 Manchester United

Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace

Manchester City 3-1 Newcastle

Brighton 0-4 Chelsea

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham

Swansea 1-0 Liverpool

Sir Alex Ferguson of the week

The Sir Alex Ferguson of the week is awarded to the best-performed team of the week.

Chelsea

A flawless performance by a Chelsea side under heavy scrutiny. Heading into the game the Blues had played in three consecutive scoreless draws. But from the get go Chelsea looked a team in form. Chelsea took the lead in the third minute through Eden Hazard before Willian capped off a brilliant build up play to double the lead three minutes later.

Hazard then scored a delicious solo goal in the 77th minutes, before Victor Moses capped off a dominant display by finding space behind the Brighton defence.

After this performance do Chelsea still need Peter Crouch?

Bebe of the week

Bebe is widely considered Sir Alex Ferguson’s worst ever signing. The Bebe award is given to the most disappointing team from the week.

Liverpool

How can you not give it to the boys from Merseyside. A week after trouncing the top of the table Manchester City, Liverpool somehow managed to lose to bottom place Swansea. Liverpool have a habit of disappointing their fans, but surely this has to be one of the most disappointing. Swansea look a rabble, but against the Reds they looked like a ‘silky gazelle’ (credit: Will Ferrell).

In the wake of their horrendous defeat here is my version on the crazed ‘Sugar Sugar’ song sweeping through Merseyside.

Losers doo doo doo doo do do,

Liverpool are losers doo doo doo do do.

You go and beat Man City,

But you can’t beat Swansea.

That’s right you can’t because you suck!

Player of the week

Eden Hazard

How can you go past the magician from Chelsea? Hazard’s performance against Brighton had it all. Two magnificent goals, nine dribbles and to cap it off, he gave his shirt to a young fan in the crowd, showing what a genuine good guy he is.

Imagine where Chelsea would be this year without him? I can guarantee they wouldn’t be in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

 Sportdot Goal of the week

Sergio Aguero

It seems every goal of the week award has a sponsor so why should I not do the same? Aguero’s goal is all about the incredible set up by Leroy Sane. Sane has been electrifying this year and showing signs of being a future Ballon d’Or winner. His dribbling is Messi esque. This goal can be replayed time after time.

 Retro clip of the week

Malcolm Allison v Alan Mullery

I came across this clip earlier in the week and thought I needed to create a segment to show the wider public this incredible video. The confrontation takes place in the wake of the 1970 World Cup. Malcolm Allison was the manager of Manchester City at the time and was doing some television work for British network ITV during the World Cup. Allison criticised the performance for Alan Mullery, who later got word of this and thought it was wise to challenge Allison live on air. Truly captivating television that will never be seen again.

 

NBA Sitrep – Rockets swing-and-miss vs LA, knock over Warriors instead as Curry & LeBron lead All-Star teams

A weekly post wrapping up all the action from around the association over the last seven days.

Seven-game series anyone?

The best of the West squared off yesterday in their last regular season clash, in what loomed as a preview of the Western Conference Final.

The game didn’t disappoint as the Rockets showed the league that they can hang with the defending Champions.

Harden found his groove in his second game back from a hamstring injury, dropping 22 points on the Warriors and leaving Curry with Kyrie Irving flashbacks with this step-back dagger to ice the game.

Harden then played defense. No, not a typo. He blocked Curry’s last-gasp three ball attempt and the Rockets sunk the Warriors 116-108.

Chris Paul was up to his usual antics, connecting from downtown six times for his 33 points, 7 dimes, 11 rebounds and three steals.

Bring on a seven-game series between these two.

Only in LA

Welcome to Hollywood’s newest Soap Opera – NBA edition.

The script started innocently enough. The Clippers played a heart-felt video tribute to their former captain, Chris Paul, before he received a standing ovation from the Staples Centre crowd.

Then it got interesting.

What followed was must-watch reality television.

First, Blake tried to take Gordons head off.

Then Mike D’Antoni got a little grumpy after Blake ‘accidently’ knocked into him.

And Austin Rivers and Patrick Beverly were their usual annoying selves.

The end result of all this drama. Griffin and Ariza were ejected and the Clippers upset the Rockets 113-102.

Oh, and after the game Chris Paul led James Harden, Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green down a secret passageway that joins the teams dressing rooms to confront Austin Rivers.

Clint Capela tried to storm the Clippers locker room from the front entrance, but he had the door slammed on him by a Clippers staff member.

Ariza and Green were both suspended for two games and the Rockets – Clippers rivalry was officially born.

Just another day in LA.

Best of the Best

Steph Curry and LeBron James have been named as the 2018 All-Star captains, finishing atop the vote in their respective conferences.

Curry led the West starting line-up consisting of Kevin Durant, James Harden, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.

LeBron was joined by former teammate Kyrie Irving, as well as Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMar Derozen and first-timer Joel Embiid.

Curry and LeBron will now select their starting line-ups from the pool of both conferences in traditional school-yard style. They will also get to select from a number of All-Star reserves, which will be announced by the coaches in the coming days.

The quirkiest surprise of this year’s voting belongs to Manu Ginobili, who somehow managed to poll more votes than Harden and Westbrook in the fan-vote.

The ageless Spur didn’t fare so well in the media and player votes, rightly handing over his starting spot to MVP candidate James Harden.

Injury curse strikes again

The clock is ticking on Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs season as their superstar faces a race against time to be healthy for playoffs.

Leonard’s lingering quad injury has sidelined him for all but nine games this campaign, with a worrying pattern of injury riddled seasons threatening to mar his career.

The Spurs have managed to hold onto the fourth seed (30-18 record) without Leonard, but face little hope of contending without him come playoffs.

Sliders and Risers

standings - 2

Photo credit: ESPN

Riser

After falling out of the playoff seeding in December, the Philadelphia 76ers have leapfrogged back into the seventh seed on the back of a host of impressive victories. ‘The Process’ is currently sitting on a three-game win streak, having won eight of their last ten contests. Since the New Year the 76ers have knocked over the Celtics, Bucks, Raptors, Pistons and Spurs. If they can hang onto a playoff seed they will feature in post-season action for the first time since 2012.

Slider

In correlation with the 76ers rise, the Detroit Pistons have slid down the standings and currently sit just outside of the playoff race. They have dropped eight of their last ten contests and are currently holding the second longest losing streak in the league (five games, bested only by the Kings with seven).  It has been a dramatic fall for the Pistons, who started the season with a 14-6 record and held a top four seed for much of November.

Heat Check

Damian Lillard

vs. Phoenix Suns – 31 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 steal

vs. Indiana Pacers – 26 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds

vs. Dallas Mavericks – 31 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 7 three-pointers

It has been the Lillard show for Portland over the last week as their superstar has led them on a three-game win-streak that sees the Trailblazers sitting in the sixth seed in the West.

Highlights

Spencer Dinwiddie laid the nail into the Pistons coffin with this tough finish.

Wiggins you are cleared for takeoff. Jakob Poetel what are you doing?

Wade up top to LeBron. Just like the good old days.

https://twitter.com/_MarcusD2_/status/954832217716510721

LeBron returns the favour to his former Miami teammate. Behind-the-back and through-the-legs if you don’t mind.

Speaking of assists, is there anything the Greek Freak can’t do!

Whoopsie Watch

CP3 with an Oscar winning performance.

Rodney Hood vs Phone. Fairly predictable ending.

‘The Process’ in action.

English Football Transfer Wrap (Week 3)

Marcus Edwards – Tottenham to Norwich City (Loan)

Jason Cummings – Nottingham Forest to Rangers (Loan)

Ricky Holmes – Charlton Athletic to Sheffield United (A$701,260)

30-year-old Ricky Holmes said his move to Sheffield United was a no brainer. The winger has been heavily criticised by Charlton fans on social media, but Holmes said at his age, moving to Sheffield United may be his last chance to play in the Premier League. The Blades sit in the playoff positions in the Championship and are potentially 19 games away from promotion to the top tier. For Holmes, the decision to leave Charlton for Sheffield was about completing a life-long dream.

https://twitter.com/ricky_holmes/status/952939959777923072

Russell Martin – Norwich City to Rangers (Loan)

Kean Bryan – Manchester City to Oldham Athletic (Loan)

Jack Payne – Huddersfield Town to Blackburn Rovers (Loan)

Michael Madl – Fulham to Austria Vienna (Undisclosed/Market value: A$1.6 million)

Michael Madl departs Fulham.

Keshi Anderson – Crystal Palace to Swindon Town (Undisclosed/Market value: A$155,840)

Cameron Jerome – Norwich City to Derby County (A$2.65 million)

Derby have boosted their attacking options with the signing of 31-year-old striker Cameron Jerome. The deal is seen as a huge step towards promotion for the Derbyshire club. The Rams sit second on the table but have had little output from their strikers. Attacking midfielder Matej Vydra has netted 15 goals this season, nine more than forwards David Nugent and Sam Winnall. Jerome has only scored one goal for Norwich this season, but has netted 124 goals in his career.

Martin Samuelsen – West Ham to Burton Albion (Loan)

Marko Grukic – Liverpool to Cardiff City (Loan)

Marcus Tavernier – Middlesbrough to MK Dons (Loan)

Deniss Rakels – QPR to Cracovia (Loan)

Theo Walcott – Arsenal to Everton (A$35.06 million)

Walcott unveiled at Everton.

After 12 years of service, Theo Walcott departed Arsenal with his belongings in a bin bag. The winger has been at the Gunners since the age of 16, but a lack of game time this season has seen him move to Everton. Walcott thanked Arsene Wenger for giving him the opportunity at such a young age and said he is looking forward to working with Sam Allardyce. Walcott was the third-highest scoring Englishman in the Premier League last season with 19 goals, behind Harry Kane and Dele Alli.

Brandon Comley – QPR to Colchester United (Undisclosed)

Cameron Carter-Vickers – Tottenham to Ipswich Town (Loan)

Daniel Pinillos – Cordoba to Barnsley (Undisclosed/Market value: A$ 468,300)

*Market value’s courtesy of Transfermarkt.co.uk