|UPCOMING SPORTING TALKING POINTS & PREDICTIONS
We predicted two of the three 6 Nations results last weekend, thanks to Jonathan Sexton’s sensational injury time drop goal to give Ireland victory against France. Here are some of the stand out statistics from Round 1:
Conor Murray, the Irish scrum half made 145 passes, the next closest being Italy’s Marcello Violi with 86.French skipper Guilhem Guirado made an astonishing 31 tackles, and in total 7 of the top 10 tacklers from Round 1 were French. England made 153 tackles compared with Italy’s 131. Scotland beat more defenders than Wales, despite losing the match by 34-7. France last lost their first match of consecutive 5/6 Nations campaigns in 1963-64.So did the scoreline flatter England? Should Ireland have won more comfortably? Having fallen 2 places in the world rankings (from 5th to 7th), can Scotland bounce back to victory against France (who are now ranked 10th) in Sundays high pressure game? And can Agathos go one better and predict all three games?
Saturday: Ireland v Italy at 1415 – Ireland in a high scoring game.
England v Wales at 1645 – England in the most ferocious game of the weekend.
Sunday – Scotland v France at 1500 – Scotland, in the closest game of the weekend.
The Winter Olympics have now started in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Team GB has sent a record 59 athletes, aiming to become GB’s most successful winter games with a medal target of five or more. 169 Russian athletes are set to compete as neutrals. In total more than 3,000 athletes will compete in 102 medal events in the following 15 sports: Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Cross-Country Skiing, Curling, Figure Skating, Freestyle Skiing, Ice Hockey, Long Track Speedskating, Luge, Nordic Combined, Short Track Speedskating, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, Snowboarding.
What is the most popular sport amongst these? The answer obviously depends upon where in the world the questions is asked. Whilst Ice Hockey may seem like the marquee cold weather sport, particularly in the U.S, Canada, and Russia , according to viewing data on YouTube over the past year from Google it pales in comparison to other sports like curling and bobsleighing. In 2014, based on information from internet headlines, the most popular event was figure skating, with almost three times as many users as the second most read-about sport, ice hockey.
Tottenham play Arsenal on Saturday at 1230, a huge game in the context of the 4th place Champions League spot. Sixth place Arsenal are currently 4 points behind Tottenham, and 5 points behind 4th place Chelsea. Chelsea have only won once in the Premier league this year and in their last 2 matches lost 4-1 to Watford and 3-0 to Bournemouth. They must wait until Monday evening when they face bottom side West Bromwich Albion at home. Tottenham and Chelsea will be favourites, but we are going for an away win and a draw, and prior to the next newsletter Chelsea to have appointed their 11th different coach in 15 years.
The Champions League last 16 first legs take place next Tuesday and Wednesday, with 5 Premier League clubs hoping to progress. We think 3 of them will make it to the Quarter Finals. In a random fact, on this day in 1979 Trevor Francis became the UK’s first ever million pound signing when he joined Nottingham Forest from Birmingham City.
Next Saturday, 17th February George Groves will fight Chris Eubank Jr at the Manchester Arena in the semi-final of the World Boxing Super Series. As well as a spot in the World Boxing Super Series final, Groves will be defending his WBA Super crown, whilst Eubank Jnr is putting his IBO belt on the line. We predict a knockout win for Eubank Jnr in the 9th round of this super-middleweight clash.
There are potentially four matches for England over the coming fortnight in a Twenty20 Tri-series. Both New Zealand and England have already lost in their opening game to Australia. England face Australia again in Melbourne tomorrow, before playing New Zealand in Wellington on the 13th, and in Hamilton on 18th February. Should England make it, the final is on the 21st February in Auckland. We think England will get to the final but that Australia will avenge their 4-1 One day International Series loss to England last month.