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Issue 296 | March 8 2013

Follow My lead The rise of Chris Robshaw


issue 296, March 8 2013 radar 06 This week in sporting history Smokin’ Joe Frazier gets the better of The Greatest in the Fight of the Century

08 100 years of ‘Oh I say’ A century of tennis is brought to book by the ITF. The start of Sue Barker’s career scrapes in oFeatures this coming week

Cover image: The Times/NI Syndication. This page: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images, Keystone/Getty Images, Tom Shaw/Getty Images

20 Chris Robshaw England’s captain on his journey to the top of the international game, plus our preview of this weekend’s Six Nations ties

29 Premier stats

20 33 06

Data specialists Opta crunch the numbers that tell us who’s ruled, who’s dribbled and who’s drooled in this season’s Premier League

33 Lucas Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder on his adopted city, Luis Suárez and understanding Jamie Carragher

39 Cheltenham special Our eight-page preview of the festival’s biggest names and races – and the best (we hope) tips from an actual expert

extra Time

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60 Gadgets The Sonos PLAYBAR breaks the sound barrier, and we try not to break Google’s Chromebook Pixel

62 Kit Our old and creaking bones have got into yoga in a big way. If it’s good enough for Giggsy...

64 Grooming Collections from Natio, Dove and Jack Black will leave you looking meaner and smelling cleaner

68 Entertainment Jude Law and Rooney Mara suffer serious Side Effects, and the Thin White Duke returns | March 8 2013 | 03


Radar

1. Ryan Giggs

p08 – Anyone for the ITF’s book on a century of tennis? p10– I AM PLAYR: live the life of a pro footballer on your commute

With the buzz around Ryan Giggs reaching his 1,000-game milestone, we look at some of the other outfield footballers in the 1,000 club 4. Alan Ball

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Giggs signed his professional contract for Manchester United in November 1990, the same month that teammate David de Gea was busy being born, making his first-team debut later that season. Appearances for Wales were limited to just 64 caps by a series of mysterious pre-friendly injuries.

Squeaky-voiced World Cup winner buzzed around in midfield for a total of 1,054 competitive games, according to FIFA’s records (and who can we trust if not good ol’ Uncle Sepp?). Scored more than 200 goals in his 12-club career and is a genuine, much-missed England legend.

2. Pelé

5. Paolo Maldini

He’s allegedly scored more than 1,200 goals, so a mere thousand games is a doddle for Pelé. Hard data is tricky to find for the Viagrapeddling Brazil icon, but 1,363 matches is apparently the total. Looks much the same now as he did in his playing days, leaving us to conclude that Pelé is in fact a Highlander.

His playing career may have stretched from 1985 to 2009, but we barely recall this majestic defender extending a leg in that time. Perfect positioning meant Maldini rarely had to even tackle opponents to stop them. Played 902 games for Milan and 126 matches for Italy, keeping his kit immaculate in each one.

6

3. Javier Zanetti

6. Steve Claridge

Total games played: 1,078. Total haircuts in that time: one. The 39-year-old Argentine right-back and Inter captain is still going strong, despite being two years older than his current club manager. Has been (correctly) identified by Giggs himself as the most complete opponent he’s ever faced.

Softly spoken forward-come-lunatic has played more than 1,000 games for 20+ clubs and was still scoring goals for Gosport Borough last year at the age of 45. In his younger days, Claridge used to sell fruit and veg out of his car boot after training – which we’re fairly sure can’t be said of anyone else on this list.

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Ben Radford/Allsport, Allsport UK. All other pictures Getty Images

Grand old players

p06 – This week in sporting history, Ali v Frazier: the Fight of the Century

5

| March 8 2013 | 05


Radar

one in a hundred Other events namechecked as century-lOng highlights fOr their spOrt include: game Of the century An injury-time equaliser for germany against Italy in the semi final of the 1970 World Cup was just the start of the excitement. From 1-1, an astonishing five goals were scored in extra time, as germany lost to their international bogey team 4-3. Franz Beckenbauer played all of extra time with his dislocated arm in a sling because germany had used both of their substitutions.

1971 THE FIgHT oF THE CEnTury

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It didn’t so much capture public imagination, as pin public imagination and eyeball it into submission, dividing an enthralled USA on sporting, social and political grounds. Remarkably, the contest lived up to the hype. Ali outboxed Frazier early, but could never quite figure out Smokin’ Joe’s bobbing, weaving style. Eventually, the 27-year-old Frazier began to outwork Ali, punctuating his narrow yet conclusive points win by knocking his rival down with a titanic left hook in the 15th and final round. The braggart Ali surprised some with his grace in defeat, but the bad blood between him and Frazier continued throughout their epic trilogy. Ali won the two return bouts – in New York in 1974 and the famous ‘Thrilla in Manilla’ decider in 1975, but Frazier will always be known as the first boxer to beat ‘The Greatest’ – and the winner of the most famous boxing match in history.

swim Of the century Despite it taking place in 2004, the swimming world seemed confident this race wouldn’t be bested in the following 96 years. Ian Thorpe, pieter van den Hoogenband, grant Hackett and a young Michael phelps now have a total of 29 olympic gold medals between them. At the Athens olympics, all four met in the final of the 200m freestyle, the Thorpedo edging out defending champ van den Hoogenband to win.

AFP/Getty Images

THIS WEEK W In SporTIng HISTory

e’re all used to there being more than one heavyweight champion in modern boxing. Hell, you yourself probably hold an alphabet version right now, without even knowing it: the WTF world title. Congratulations, slugger! However, back in the 1970s, when boxing’s heavyweight champion was the most high-profile man in all of sport, it was all but unheard of to have two genuine claimants to the crown. Especially when that pair were two of the greatest heavyweights ever. Muhammad Ali, 29 years old and unbeaten in 31 fights, had been stripped of his world title four years earlier for his refusal to be conscripted to the army during the Vietnam War. During Ali’s absence from the ring, Joe Frazier – like Ali, an Olympic gold-medallist and an unbeaten boxer – won the title. After two Ali comeback bouts, ‘the fight’, as it was known, was scheduled for March 8 1971.

Ball Of the century Shane Warne’s first ever ball in an Ashes series occurred in 1993, when the 23-year-old unleashed a leg-break that landed several inches outside of Mike gatting’s leg stump, then spun so fiercely that it clipped the top of off-stump. A disbelieving gatt walked off with a look on his face like someone had whipped the bacon out of his sarnie, the dying art of leg spin was revived, and a cricket great had announced his arrival.


Radar

Serving time M

uch has changed in tennis in the century since the International Tennis Federation was founded. Rackets of wood and catgut have been replaced by unrecognisable titanium creations, and the men and women holding them have changed in a similar fashion: well-heeled aristocrats have been replaced by muscled supermen, and gleaming whites swapped for garish branded clothing (except at Wimbledon, a whole postcode that remains pleasingly sequestered in a pre-war idyll). A new coffee-table book delves into the rich history of the sport, from its aristocratic origins during the Renaissance, through its own

enlightenment with the ‘sphairistiké’ set created by Major Walter Wingfield in 1873. This marks the birth of modern tennis – the major’s play-athome kit allowed families to try out the sport at their leisure. The name didn’t catch on (replaced by the much catchier ‘lawn tennis’) but the sport certainly did, and this book is full of photographs and information about its history. It covers the birth of the game, its growth into a global sport and the ITF’s continuing efforts to grow the sport in places like Africa. It’s a fascinating story, and beautifully illustrated, but it’s safe to say it doesn’t make great reading for fans of British people winning stuff. A Century of Contribution to Tennis, £35, itftennis.com

This image (top) of ‘Superbrat’ John McEnroe opens a chapter on the ITF’s role in enforcing the rules

Running riot I

Richard N Williams: son of Duane (one of the ITF’s three founders), two-time US Open winner and Titanic survivor

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f, like Mo Farah, you’ve run before, you’ll be aware of the benefits of minimalist footwear. We don’t mean economically designed shoes, or ones made to look like empty white rooms, but lightweight gear that allows for greater agility and movement. Merrell’s M-Connect range combines that approach without sacrificing the benefits of their outdoor range. Kit is available for activities such as hiking and ‘barefoot running,’ which is like running without shoes on, but with shoes on. Mind: blown. merrell.com


Discover the making of

W W W. J E A N PA U L G A U LT I E R . C O M


Radar

Game on W

e’ve picked out three great sports games to play on your phone.

1. I AM PLAYR A slickly produced online game with millions of fans, I AM PLAYR lets you live the life of a pro footballer for the fictional River Park FC – from training and matches, to being interviewed by Sport (genuinely coming soon, on the app). The iOS app lets you play mini-games to practise your passing and shooting and improve your players’ stats. Free from iTunes store

Cheat at FIFA I

f you prefer your gaming in a more sedentary format, this might be more up your alley. Apparently crafted with the iconic Predator boot in mind, the Gioteck SC-1 Playstation 3 controller has been specifically designed for sports games. The standout features are the two programmable function buttons at the bottom, which you can map to your favourite tricks – so instead of flailing around with the right stick while your player does his best impression of Shaun Wright-Phillips, you can get that rainbow flick right every time. Gioteck SC-1, £25, amazon.co.uk

10 | March 8 2013 |

2. Real Racing 3

Beautiful graphics, a packed roster of real tracks and cars, and innovative multiplayer options make the new Real Racing 3 a must. Free from iTunes store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore

3. Super Cricket Lurid, bright and extremely quick – Super Cricket is what Twenty20 must seem like to Test purists. It’s much better commuting fun than actual cricket, which got us thrown off the bus, bat in hand. 66p from play.google.com


Radar Editor’s letter A win and a prayer? The start of the festival is an unmissable spectacle – with or without divine intervention

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Now this is real sport The Cheltenham Festival is one of the highlights of the year. Embrace it, people!

N

ow I fully appreciate that to many people, horse racing doesn’t constitute sport. They just don’t get it. To them, the Cheltenham Festival means nothing at all. It’s fair enough. We all have sports we Editor-in-chief like less than others. But I’d urge everyone Simon Caney – especially those among you who are, @simoncaney let’s say, ’horse-averse’ – to tune in to Channel 4 on Tuesday afternoon. The start of the festival – the booming roar before the first race, the Supreme Novices Hurdle – is one of the great moments in any British sporting year. I love racing, as Messrs Hill, Ladbroke, Power and, er, 365 will testify. And, given a choice, I’d normally opt for flat racing over the jumps – but Cheltenham is my favourite racing week of the year by a mile. Its atmosphere is second to none, and the quality of racing is incredible.

Yes, racing is dominated by betting, but you don’t have to gamble to appreciate the brilliance and bravery on show – both equine and human. Jump jockeys, epitomised by the legendary AP McCoy (interviewed on page 40), are a different breed. And then there are the horses. Every decent jumps horse that is fit will be there, because these are the thrilling races that determine champions. It is unbeatable action over four days, when reputations will be made. In short, it is terrific sport. On the subject of horses, much has been written about the fact that the great Kauto Star has now been retired from racing and taken up dressage. There have been some remarkably snooty comments about how this is ’demeaning’ to a great champion, but those people seem to forget he’s a horse, not a person. As long as he’s happy, stimulated, fed and warm, he’ll be fine. Good luck to him in another sport.

One cricketer to watch closely over the next few weeks is Stuart Broad, who seems at a crossroads in his career. He needs a big series against New Zealand or the unthinkable – an Ashes without him – is a possibility. It’s unlikely, admittedly, but Broad is no longer an automatic selection. Rory McIlroy dropped a clanger of some proportions when he walked off the course at last week’s Honda Classic, citing toothache. It was an horrendous PR blunder, but one he went some way to rectifying with an apology that I, for one, believe was genuine. He’s a young man who for the first time in his life is feeling real pressure, as he tries to prove he is worth the vast sums that Nike is now paying him to use its equipment. Faced with one of the worst rounds of his career, he fled the scene. He will be back, though. He’s too good not to be.

Editorial Editor-in-chief: Simon Caney (7951) Deputy editor: Tony Hodson (7954) Art editor: John Mahood (7860) Subeditor: Graham Willgoss (7431) Senior writers: Sarah Shephard (7958), Alex Reid (7915) Staff writers: Mark Coughlan (7901), Amit Katwala (7914) Picture editor: Julian Wait (7961) Designer: Matthew Samson (7861) Digital designer: Chris Firth (7952) Production manager: Tara Dixon (7963) Contributors: Mark Richardson Commercial Agency Sales Director: Iain Duffy (7991) Advertising Managers: Steve Hare (7930), Kevin O’Byrne (7832), Aaron Pinto del Rio (7918) Sales Executive: Joe Grant (7904) Distribution Manager: Sian George (7852) Distribution Assistant: Makrum Dudgeon Head of Online: Matt Davis (7825) Head of Communications: Laura Wootton (7913) Managing Director: Calum Macaulay PA to Managing Director: Sophia Koulle (7826) Colour reproduction: Rival Colour Ltd Printed by: Wyndeham Group Ltd © UTV Media plc 2012 UTV Media plc takes no responsibility for the content of advertisements placed in Sport magazine £1 where sold Hearty thanks to: Grant Rowley, Claire Burns, Steph Jones, Duncan Alexander, Matt Furniss, Mark Hazell

Cover of the Year

Reader comments of the week Wow, maybe @simoncaney should drive Bale to the airport! We need to keep that sort of talent to keep this the best league in the world!?

@simoncaney don’t say Bale should leave!!! I hope he’s right when he says he doesn’t read press about himself

@GoodOldChuffy Twitter

@Broadinator Twitter

@lauraoakley81 Twitter

12 | March 8 2013 |

@simoncaney Beckham seems an odd omission from list of British players succeeding abroad. La Liga not count?

@simoncaney one more British player to succeed abroad: Owen Hargreaves.

LAUNCH OF THE YEAR

2008

Total Average Distribution: 302,466 Jul-Dec 2012 Don’t forget: Help keep public transport clean

and tidy for everyone by taking your copy of Sport away with you when you leave the bus or train.

@j_coatsworth Twitter

@thomasjohnsonpr Twitter

Download the free Sport iPad app from the Apple Newsstand

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With all that’s been said since @ronnieo147 made his announcement, it’s good to see @simoncaney bothering to talk positively in @sportmaguk


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Flats on Friday

David Lyttleton

Radar Opinion

After the match, there is no place like Rome

I

t is indeed exciting that England face Italy at Twickenham on Sunday, but I still feel a little bit sorry for the players. I know they are suitably remunerated, fed like medieval kings and massaged like the adonises they are. But, still, this weekend they’re missing out. Italy, you see, is just about the best away trip in the game. Let’s start by thinking practically. The flight is nice and short, so not too long is spent in seats presumably designed for Jimmy Krankie. And there is no need to consume the in-flight meal – the appeal of which, frankly, even my dog would take time to assess. No, it’s an in-and-out mission, this one, and that works just nicely. So you get there and you work through the now-standard player-reaches-hotel-room protocol: eat complimentary shortbread biscuits before even sitting down, jump on to the bed to test firmness, then check which TV channels are available. A word to the wise: these Italian types are not inclined to fork out for television packages that include any English channels. Don’t worry, I have a template complaint letter that I farm out to every hotel that lets me down in this regard, so they know all about what we expect. Once the room is inspected, teams generally meet up downstairs for a stretch designed to get the journey out of the system. Having handed in my gumshield for good, I can now reveal this session to be an absolute waste of everybody’s time. Lads sit and text, chat and sometimes even sleep,

14 | March 8 2013 |

as one fitness guru or another calls out which body part needs releasing next. Waste of time. Then your time is your own – and what a feeling. Rugby players with time on their hands in foreign countries do one of two things: they go back to bed to play with their iPhones, or they go to the nearest coffee shop to play with their iPhones. Being one of the adventurous gang, I would always look to sample the local espresso. Walking around and soaking in the culture was never really on the agenda – it all makes your legs a bit tired. But coffee and cafes are non-negotiable, and Italy’s offerings are world-class. But really, it’s all about the post-match over there. Whereas we might offer a warm can of beer and some boiled chicken and broccoli with a stale mini-baguette (how cute), the Italians serve up tables of cold meats, beautiful bread, salty butter, bottomless bottles of rouge and pasta made fresh by highly expressive local men in big white hats. Then it’s on to an Italian nightclub – which will, invariably, be exactly like an English one from the late 1980s. So long as you took advantage of the rouge, this is no bad thing. It’s a one-off and you don’t know anybody there, so admitting that Europop music is cool and sweaty dancing is attractive can be your little secret. So, yes, these chaps are lucky to be playing for England on Sunday. It’s just a shame they have to do so in boring old London. @davidflatman

It’s like this…

Bill Borrows

M

y father was a bookie. That is to say, if I was ever questioned by the mothers of other kids, he was a turf accountant. As indeed were both my brothers-in-law, one sister, a niece and a nephew... and I’m the only one who likes a bet. Strange, that. Somebody else who very definitely likes a bet is professional gambler Harry ‘The Dog’ Findlay, a man who had a £14,000 betting tab by the age of 16 and is reckoned variously and across any sporting event you care to name to have won between £27m and £33m in his time. Now Cheltenham is finally here, will he be betting on it? Will the new Pope be a Catholic? It’s odds-on with the bookies. “Harry Findlay, “I’d been to a few meetings at Cheltenham,” a man who had a he told me. “But the first £14,000 betting tab time I went to the festival by the age of 16 was with your cousin and is reckoned [another, ahem, turf accountant]. variously and “We left a nightclub at across any sporting about 3.30am and it was event you care to pissing down. Desert Orchid was going to be name to have won racing the next day and between £27m he didn’t like heavy ground, so we laid off the and £33m” bets everywhere. It was 1989, and when he came in I got the train home. I was saturated and penniless, but I was still glad he won.” Findlay can afford to be generous. Within a few years he owned several racehorses and, in 2008, one of them, Denman, won the Gold Cup. “If you’d told me I’d end up owning horses I’d have said you were mad,” he says now. “If you’d said I’d end up with one that won the Gold Cup, I’d have said you were out of your f*cking mind. But that’s how it ended up.” So, having been to the festival as a punter, an owner and a winning owner (he made £600,000 that afternoon), it’s fair to say he knows his way around Cheltenham. Any advice for Sport readers? “Know what you’re going to bet before you get there, and stick to it,” he says. “Don’t change just because you’ve backed a couple of losers.” There you go, straight from the horse’s. @BorrowsSPORT

Plank of the Week José Mourinho, Real Madrid manager “The world will stop to watch this tie.” Or so reckoned The Special One before the recent Champions League game against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Sorry pal, big shop at Tesco followed by CSI Miami and then back-to-back South Parks.


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Frozen in time

16 | March 8 2013 |


Gareth Bale can do no wrong right now (unless you happen to be an Arsenal fan, that is). His goal against the Gunners last weekend helped Tottenham beat their north London rivals and sparked jubilation in the stands. He needs to work harder on that little trademark handsy celebration, though. Only one person in the crowd, the oh-so-enthusiastic woman at the front – bothered to do it. Fail.

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Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Man of the moment


This is Your CapTain speaking


Chris Robshaw

From international debut to a Grand Slam opportunity, it’s been an incredible 12 months for Chris Robshaw. With Italy next up for his side on Sunday, we caught up with England’s inspirational leader “A week’s a long time in sport, let alone a couple of months.” Chris Robshaw is addressing the journalists gathered at England’s training camp in Surrey. He is making reference to the media’s tendency to hyperbolise every run of success or failure, but England’s leading man could just as easily be talking about his own meteoric rise. It’s hard to remember now, but going into last year’s Six Nations tournament, Chris Robshaw was making his second appearance for England, and was far from everyone’s first choice as captain. After two wins from his first three games in charge, we sat down with Robshaw during last year’s tournament – when he was under no illusions about the building job that lay ahead for English rugby. “This project is about getting us back to potentially being the best side in the world,” he said then. “We know that won’t happen overnight, but the plan is to be there ready to compete at the 2015 World Cup. We are here to take English rugby forward again.”

Since then, Robshaw has led England on a tour to South Africa, faced the southern hemisphere’s big three at Twickenham, led Harlequins to a first Premiership title, and conquered the seemingly unbeatable All Blacks. He now stands on the verge of Grand Slam glory, with only Italy standing in the way of the chance to head to Cardiff with a perfect four-out-of-four Six Nations record. If a week is a long time in sport, imagine how the past year has felt for Robshaw. “I’ve enjoyed it,” he insists. “There have been tough times, there has been a lot of learning – but the more you do something, the more experience you get. Coming into contact with guys like Richie McCaw or Jean de Villiers means you can learn a lot about the way they go about the job, from the way they speak to the ref to little things such as the way they deal with the media and the post-game presentations. As long as I keep learning and moving forward, it’s very helpful.” The way he’s gone about the job so far, it’s easy to argue that England’s captain doesn’t need too much help at all. It hasn’t all been > | March 8 2013 | 21

David Rogers/Getty Images

HIGHS AND LOWS


Chris Robshaw

rosy for the team bearing the red rose, though, and Robshaw is quick to point out that the harder times have helped make him the man he is. After three defeats to South Africa in the summer, England beat Fiji in November before succumbing to Australia and then those pesky Springboks again. It was that South Africa defeat that brought about what Robshaw terms his “first time in a dark, negative place” after a game. With one minute to go, England trailed by four points when he opted for a kick at goal instead of going for the corner – a decision that was met with derision by fans and pundits alike. “I don’t think you really appreciate what those negative reactions are like until you experience it yourself,” Robshaw explains. “You learn best from your mistakes though, don’t you? It makes you a stronger person coming out the other side, and I had good people looking after me. The players in particular were great during that period. Of course it’s hard, but you’re moving forward and it can go one of two ways – so you need to go out there and rectify it.” Robshaw and his team did a pretty good job of doing exactly that at Twickenham a week later. With the All Blacks in town, England set about a gameplan that has shaped their pattern ever since: closing down, chasing and pressuring every bit of opposition ball for 80 minutes. A bit of luck – and Kiwi tiredness – might have played its part, but England put a record 38-21 score on the visiting world champions, and Robshaw was once again the hero of the piece. “That’s sport,” the ever-understated England man insists. A year on from our interview with Robshaw in March 2012, then, and with the wealth of 22 | March 8 2013 |

experience that those 12 months have brought, how does he look back on his early days leading England? “Luckily I was captain of Harlequins before I was first appointed, so that helped,” he says. “When I was first made captain, I tried to overdo things, though, and tried to do everyone’s job and make every decision. It took me a while to learn to trust the experience of others. It’s about learning to delegate responsibility, and we have a leadership group in this side that helps make those big decisions. As a captain, people always assume you have to be the guy giving the inspirational speeches or saying this and that. First and foremost, though, you need to put your hand up and ensure you own your shirt. When you ask your players to go out there and put their all into it, they’ve got to know you’re willing to do the same.” And what about his least favourite part of the job? “Honestly? Things like this.” Oh. “I love playing and going out there and doing something I’ve always done, but the media is a different challenge that you have to be mentally switched on for.”

LEADING FROM THE FRONT

When it comes to earning his shirt and setting an example for others to follow, Robshaw has lived up to expectations. After victory over New Zealand, England came into the Six Nations with a spring in their step. They have dispatched Scotland, Ireland and France with a ruthless efficiency. Robshaw, meanwhile, has picked up two man-of-thematch awards as recognition for his incredible workrate and leadership.

CAPTAIN MATERIAL The Six Nations game against France saw Robshaw become England’s eighth most experienced captain of all time. He has a few more in his sights...

CARLING 59 WILL JOHNsON 39 MARTIN DALLAGLIO 22 LAWRENCE 21 BILLBEAuMONT BORTHWICk 21 sTEvE CORRy 17 MARTIN 15 PHILvICkERy ROBsHAW 14 CHRIs

“It’s been nice to get the awards,” he admits. “But it’s one of those things that only comes off the back of good team performances. We want everyone to put their hand up, and I think that’s what has happened so far.” Victory over Italy at home this Sunday – a fixture England have never lost – and the men from Twickenham will be heading down the M4 to Cardiff next Saturday with the chance to win a first Grand Slam since 2003. Succeed, and Robshaw’s rise to the top of the game in England will be complete. And, with a Lions tour this summer, he couldn’t choose a better time to get there. Not that he’ll admit it. “Of course you know there’s a Lions tour,” he admits. “But it’s been talked about since the Premiership launch last year. Every player wants to be in the Lions, and I’m no exception. But it’s about what you do week in, week out. If you deserve to be on that plane and you’re playing well, then you will be. It’s out of your control, though, so you need to go out there and just play well.” With New Zealander Warren Gatland set to lead the Lions this summer, we have to ask if Robshaw’s had a Kiwi voice on the phone yet? “Yeah,” he says, as the gathered media grab their pens and pads and lean in for an exclusive revelation. “I had a call from Nick Evans last week.” Robshaw is clearly set on giving nothing away. Should he lead his country to two wins in the next eight days, though, you can be sure the New Zealander that matters will be on the phone in no time. That’s the good news for the England captain. And the bad? If he does, there will be many more media sessions to come. Mark Coughlan @coffers83

Stu Forster/Getty Images

“WHEN yOu Ask yOuR PLAyERs TO PuT THEIR ALL IN, THEy’vE GOT TO kNOW yOu WILL DO THE sAME”


2013 Six Nations

England v Italy

Improving Azzurri Sunday signals England’s 14th Six Nations encounter with Italy, and the points difference between the two shows the Azzurri are getting closer. Except for a blip in 2011, that is…

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

47 57 36 35 41 32 15 13 4 25 5 46 4

SundAy Six NatioNS: ENglaNd v italy | twickENham | BBc oNE 3pm

England With Owen Farrell out injured, Lancaster has brought in Toby Flood, while Danny Care is also in line for his first start of the tournament. The structure will remain the same for England – they have built their team ethos on doing the simple things well and letting the opposition make mistakes. And, with three wins on the bounce, Lancaster won’t change too much ahead of his side’s final home game, with the new men set to bring more of the same to the field. With Care and Flood in situ, however, the pace is likely to be upped behind the pack, because the duo play a higher tempo than Farrell and Ben Youngs. The back-row three were slightly quieter against France two weeks ago, but they’ll be essential here

24 | March 8 2013 |

in wearing the Italians down early on, and ensuring England win the battle of the breakdown to keep the Azzuri quiet. Get that ball to the half-backs, and they can unleash the likes of Manu Tuilagi (above), Chris Ashton and Mike Brown. It won’t come easy, but keep things simple, go through the phases and Italy will tire. The second half is where the points will come.

OnE tO Watch Chris Ashton With two tries in 14 internationals, Ashton’s place is coming under more and more scrutiny. If the game opens up, though, what odds the flying winger bouncing back with a couple of tries?

Italy The Italians have looked exhausted since their opening-game victory over France, and with Sergio Parisse still missing after his ban for insulting a referee in a club match, they are missing the spark that can see them surprise teams. Manoa Vosawai has taken the number eight shirt and, after failing to

make an impact against Wales, he’ll be looking to make a mark here. England struggled to keep Louis Picamoles quiet, so Vosawai could be key to Italy breaking the gain line. Beyond that, the visitors will target England’s pack because they have struggled to dominate games so far, while the half-back pairing of Edoardo Gori and Kris Burton will be key in controlling the game with the boot. The power up front, and the control at half-back, are Italy’s main weapons on Sunday. In truth, though, a win for the men in blue would arguably be the biggest shock in Six Nations history. Don’t hold your breath, Italy.

OnE tO Watch Edoardo Gori Italy are going to spend a lot of the game on the back foot and keeping things tight around the pack, so the scrum half’s ability to keep his forwards going, and England’s back row on the back foot, could be vital.

Sport’s prediction England 34-9 italy

Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

W

i ith three wins from three, England have _only Italy standing in the way of a trip to Cardiff with Grand Slam Glory in sight. We take a look at the task in hand for Stuart Lancaster’s men on Sunday.


2013 Six Nations

Scotland v WaleS

Flying after their win over Ireland, a third home victory on the bounce would give Scotland an albeit long final day shot at the Six Nations title. The power of the pack is key to their game, with Jim Hamilton, Richie Gray and Kelly Brown vital in keeping the workrate up. Duncan Weir’s selection at 10 highlights the Scots’ gameplan – and his boot, along with Laidlaw’s, will keep the Welsh chasing high balls and long kicks all day long. The Scots will give the ball to Wales and invite them to attack a blue line in defence. With the scramble defence they showed against Ireland, they’ll back themselves to keep Wales out.

one to watch

Richie Gray Jim Hamilton’s big performance against Ireland overshadowed his blonde-haired partner. But Gray’s presence is growing, and his power will be central to Scotland’s attempts to silence the Welsh pack.

waleS

After two wins on the trot, Wales have their eyes fixed on a Cardiff showdown next weekend. With Dan Biggar and Mike Phillips finding form at half-back, they look a more threatening side than they have in a long time – although the manner in which they put France and Italy away was hardly beyond doubt. Ryan Jones, Toby Faletau and the returning Sam Warburton will be tasked with starving the Scots of possession at the breakdown, while Alun Wyn Jones is back to sure up the lineout. As for tries, they’ll be relying on the backs.

one to watch

Alex Cuthbert With two tries from three games, Cuthbert (right) is rediscovering his best form. If Scotland’s midfield is as porous as it was against Ireland, expect Cuthbert to finish off another pulled-back Biggar pass.

sport’s Prediction Scotland 12-18 Wales

Ireland v France Ireland

Will still be reeling from defeat to Scotland, and will still not be entirely sure how they failed to come away with a win. A strong start here will keep the French quiet and should be enough – if Ireland finish their chances. If fit, Paddy Jackson will be key. The number 10 got a lot of stick for his kicking against Scotland, but the way in which he opened up the Scots means he deserves another shot. In the forwards, meanwhile, Sean O’Brien is showing signs of his old form, and his breakdown work – along with Peter O’Mahony and an under-pressure Jamie Heaslip – will be essential to stopping the French getting a chance.

one to watch

Saturday ireland v france | aviva StadiuM | BBc one 5pM

26 | March 8 2013 |

Luke Marshall After a great debut against Scotland, Marshall (left) needs to build on his performance to help open the French up, while his defensive side will be important up against the dangerous Wesley Fofana.

France

The England defeat will have hurt more than their opening two games, because Philippe Saint-André’s men had the chance to put England away – but the roots of recovery are there. The breakdown work they showed in the first half at Twickenham will need to be central to their game again, while the shackles are off in the backs, giving the aforementioned Fofana the opportunity to cause defensive problems. Mathieu Bastareaud needs to make more of his half-breaks, while the return of Maxime Médard spells trouble for Ireland.

one to watch

François Trinh-Duc The fly half is under pressure after three defeats. He showed creative flashes against England, but more of those will be needed to keep the Irish defence moving.

sport’s Prediction Ireland 22-13 France

Claudio Villa/Getty Images, Ian MacNicol/AFP/Getty Images

Scotland

Saturday Scotland v WaleS | Murrayfield | BBc one 2.30pM


In Stats: The Season So Far

Number cruNcher this weekend marks 10 premier league games to go. But, thanks to data specialists Opta, we can already learn plenty about which players are performing – and who is really struggling – in 2012-13

king lucas

super suBs rule

new BOOts, please

85.50

16.37

minutes per gOal

Minutes per tackle 1. Lucas Leiva, Liverpool 16.37 2. Steve Sidwell, Fulham 20.24 3. Mohamed Diamé, West Ham 20.32 4. Morgan Schneiderlin, Southampton 21.05 5. Claudio Yacob, WBA 21.64

Minutes per goal 1. Javier Hernández, Man Utd 85.50 2. Edin Dzeko, Man City 99.17 3. Romelu Lukaku, WBA 106.08 4. Luis Suárez, Liverpool 115.00 5. Adam le Fondre, Reading 116.30 6. Robin van Persie, Man Utd 117.00 7. Frank Lampard, Chelsea 117.64 8. Gareth Bale, Tottenham 132.13 9. Wayne Rooney, Man Utd 136.55 10. Demba Ba, Newcastle/Chelsea 137.33

It’s little shock that scurrying, busybody midfielders monopolise the list of the Premier League’s most frequent tacklers, but the gap between Lucas and the rest surprised us. Despite an injury-disrupted season, the Brazil international is the only Premier League player to tackle at a rate better than once every 20 minutes, putting in a challenge every 16 minutes and 37 seconds. We do our best to tackle the tackler with an interview on page 33.

You can see why Roberto Mancini, Brian McDermott and Sir Alex Ferguson often leave their poachers on the bench. Despite not getting a regular run of starts, Javier Hernández is lethal, scoring at a rate better than a goal every 90 minutes. Supersubs Edin Dzeko and Adam le Fondre also regularly cash in on their off-the-bench freshness to help push Robin van Persie – second in the league’s scoring charts – out of the top five.

minutes per tackle

23.08%

wOrst shOOting accuracy

Worst shooting accuracy* 1. Maynor Figueroa, Wigan 20.83% 2. Mario Balotelli, Man City 23.08% 3. Stewart Downing, Liverpool 25.00% = Brett Holman, Aston Villa 25.00% 5. Glen Johnson, Liverpool 25.71% *players with a minimum of 20 shots

Mario Balotelli is excelling at Milan – but, based on this season’s form, Roberto Mancini did the right thing in manhandling him out of the door. Of the 26 shots Super Mario pelted at goal, just six were on target. He’s kept off top spot in the wayward shooting stakes only by Maynor Figueroa. The Wigan defender has dynamite in his boots, but this season he’s been blasting the ball into the stands, leaving the Honduran an ash-covered Wile E Coyote figure. Of Figueroa’s 24 shots, a mere five have been on target.

schOles still has it

1.0

minutes per successful pass

Minutes per successful pass 1. Paul Scholes, Man Utd 1.0 2. Mikel Arteta, Arsenal 1.1 3. Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal 1.2 Minutes per pass received 1. Paul Scholes, Man Utd 1.0 2. Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal 1.2 = Yaya Touré, Man City 1.2 Minutes per long pass 1. Paul Scholes, Man Utd 5.2 2. Steven Gerrard, Liverpool 8.0 = Phil Jagielka, Everton 8.0

All the fuss is about Ryan Giggs right now. But the stats seem to indicate that, when he plays, ageing ginger metronome Paul Scholes can still run a game. He both gives and accepts successful passes at a rate of one per minute (though how many are him and Michael Carrick doing their best Chuckle Brothers “to you, to me” act is not detailed). Scholes also pips Steven ‘Hollywood’ Gerrard in the amount of long passes per minute. >

| March 8 2013 | 29


In Stats: The Season So Far

Evidence here that either the Premier League is packed with burly, all-elbows forwards who commit many fouls – or that referees are likely to give defenders the benefit of the doubt when they tussle with strikers. Take your pick, but three of the Premier League’s most frequent foulers are attackers, with Grant Holt taking on the Kevin Davis role as an effective striker who nonetheless gives away a free-kick every half hour he’s on the pitch.

30.1 minutes Per

Foul lost

Minutes per foul lost Grant Holt, Norwich City 30.1 Cheik Tioté, Newcastle 31.0 Marouane Fellaini, Everton 32.3 Carlton Cole, West Ham 32.6 Charlie Adam, Stoke City 33.1

damien duFF: creative key

19.4%

0.47

Percentage oF team’s assists

When watching Fulham, we only have eyes for languid fops Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz. So much so that we hadn’t noticed it’s the 34-year-old chuffing veteran who’s doing so much to assist his team. Duff sets up almost 20 per cent of Fulham’s goals, but it’s notable that none of the clubs currently occupying the Champions League qualification places have a player in the top five (the closest is Chelsea’s Juan Mata, in eighth spot) – predictably indicating that the best-performing sides have a wide range of players contributing to their assist tally.

goals Per shots on target Percentage of team’s assists 1. Damien Duff, Fulham 19.4% 2. Steven Gerrard, Liverpool 18% = Lukas Podolski, Arsenal 18% = Theo Walcott, Arsenal 18% 5. Jean Beausejour, Wigan Athletic 17.6%

Percentage oF goals involved in

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has had a rough season, but his sticking with Christian Benteke over Darren Bent (a decision he was pilloried for by media types earlier this season) has arguably been vindicated. The Belgian has played a role in 58 per cent of Aston Villa’s goals, with only the league’s top scorer Luis Suárez also playing a key part in more than half his team’s goals. You can argue that this shows the poor contribution of Benteke’s teammates to the goal-scoring-and-creating cause. To which we’d reply: also true. 30 | March 8 2013 |

Percentage of goals involved in* 1. Christian Benteke, Aston Villa 58% 2. Luis Suárez, Liverpool 51% 3. Rickie Lambert, Southampton 44% 4. Michu, Swansea City 44% 5. Robin van Persie, Man Utd 42% *excludes own goals

Ropey defending isn’t helping, but Southampton have not one but two statistically unimpressive keepers. Kelvin Davis and replacement Artur Boruc have both faced 43 shots apiece and let in 19 and 20 goals respectively, conceding a high amount of shots faced. Wigan’s shellshocked Ali Al-Habsi has let in 55 from 139 shots on target. Goals per shots on target 1. Artur Boruc, Southampton 0.47 2. Kelvin Davis, Southampton 0.44 = Rob Green, QPR 0.44 4. Ali Al-Habsi, Wigan 0.4 = Brad Friedel, Tottenham 0.4

Paul lambert gets it right

58%

saints oF Poor goalkeePing

dribbling all over

17.8

Hats off to Hatem Ben Arfa for jinking past rivals more than once every 20 minutes. As you might expect, Ben Arfa also tops the highest attempted minutes-per-dribble list (running at opponents every 9.2 minutes). Second on that list is Luis Suárez, who’s sixth in terms of success. However, the player who sits third on the list of most frequent dribblers is Arsenal’s Gervinho (an attempt every 12.3 minutes), yet we’re struggling to find his name on this list of the 10 most successful dribblers. Mainly because it isn’t there.

minutes Per successFul

dribble Minutes per successful dribble 1. Hatem Ben Arfa, Newcastle 17.8 2. Adel Taarabt, QPR 26.6 3. Abou Diaby, Arsenal 26.8 4. Jack Wilshere, Arsenal 29.5 5. Samba Diakité, QPR 29.7 6. Luis Suárez, Liverpool 31.0 7. Sergio Agüero, Man City 33.7 8. Mohamed Diamé, West Ham 35.9 9. Santi Cazorla, Arsenal 37.1 = Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsenal 37.1

All pictures Getty Images

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Lucas Leiva

Stand by me Liverpool’s former boo-boy has turned into one of the club’s favourite sons. The midfielder spoke exclusively to Sport about his journey from zero to hero k

| March 8 2013 | 33


Lucas Leiva You had quite a battle to win the Liverpool fans over in your first few seasons, but things are very different now. What got you through that difficult period? “It was a combination of a lot of things. First, my family, who gave me confidence to keep going. And Rafa [Benitez] was crucial for me – I always say that because maybe, if it was another manager, I wouldn’t be here now. I was also determined to show every day that I wanted to improve, because I knew the level I was at wasn’t good enough to have a successful career in Liverpool. Of course, there were a lot of moments when I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I think if you work hard, always you attract more luck. Also, the fans started to realise that the job I was doing was important, so now it’s a totally different situation.”

When the 20-year-old Lucas Leiva arrived in Liverpool in the summer of 2007, he knew just two things about the city for which he’d left behind his homeland of Brazil. One was the football club itself, and its rich pedigree. And the other? The Beatles. worst in a Liverpool shirt – many felt there would be no way back for the boy from Brazil, for whom he has 20 caps. And yet, five years on, Lucas is one of the club’s most popular players. He was voted Player of the Year by Reds fans at the end of the 2010-11 season, and his shirt is now one of Liverpool’s biggest sellers. The turnaround became painfully clear in December 2011, when Lucas was ruled out for the rest of that season with injury. Suddenly, Liverpool fans – and those from outside the club, too – realised just how crucial the Brazilian had become to his side. With 10 games remaining of his ‘comeback’ season – one that Lucas admits has not been easy from a team perspective – Sport caught up with the midfielder for a post-training chat about the highs, the lows and the Jamie Carragher conundrums of life at Liverpool.

Leiva-tation: Lucas in his first season at Anfield (above) and celebrating winning a penalty at the Emirates in 2011

You moved from your home in Dourados aged 14 to start your career some 750 miles away at Grêmio. How tough was that at such a young age? “It was very hard. I didn’t go straight to Grêmio, though. I went to a small club in Sao Paulo first. I was living at the training ground with a lot of young players, and at that time I didn’t know if I was going to become a professional player. So, while I wouldn’t say it was a risk, nothing was certain. At the beginning, my parents were not so happy for me to leave home because I was so young. It wasn’t easy for them, but I asked them if I could go and just try it. Then, when I was 16, I had a chance to go to Grêmio. That was when I started to really go forward in my career, because it’s a big club in Brazil.” How has that experience affected you? “It helped me get life experience and learn to make my own decisions. Because sometimes, when you have your parents around, the easiest way to make decisions is to ask them. I think it helped me to become a man, really, and to see life in another way. Leaving home was the only way I would become a football player, though, because if I’d stayed in my home city I wouldn’t have had a chance. I wasn’t lucky enough to be born in a city like Porto Alegre or Rio, where the local teams are big clubs, so I had to move away.” >

34 | March 8 2013 |

2007 Getty Images, Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

He spoke very little English (aside from the words ‘Liverpool’ and ‘The Beatles’) and had no experience of league football outside of Brazil’s Serie A, where he’d played for Grêmio since the start of his senior career. But then Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez was convinced – to the tune of some £5m – that this was one Brazilian equipped to succeed in England, where so many others before him had failed. It took some time, however, before the Kop was similarly convinced. For Lucas’ first two seasons at the club, he struggled to impress. A formidable midfield trio of Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano did not help the Brazilian’s cause. Benitez stuck by him, but Liverpool fans were frustrated by his performances. When he was booed incessantly during a 0-0 draw with Fulham at Anfield in 2008 – a moment Lucas calls his

When you arrived at Liverpool it was as an attacking midfielder, but you’ve now become more of a holding player. Was there one particular game in which you played in that position and thought: ‘That’s it’? “I think, during my time here, the holding midfielder position was the position that I felt most comfortable in. And, of course, the competition for the place of attacking midfielder was not easy. [Smiles] So I just had to move back a bit, and I started to feel really comfortable in the way I could play and be important for the team. I’ve played in many positions for Liverpool, but that was the one I felt comfortable in – and, after that, I just kept going and learning a lot. And today I feel like it has always been my position.”


Lucas Leiva agree with him. So I said: “Yes.” He was very surprised with my answer. He said: “Yes?!” I could see on his face he was not happy, so I said: “No.” He said: “No?” And I said “No.” And that’s it. I have never asked him what he was asking me. [Laughs] I don’t want to know. He might not even remember it now, but for me it was like: ‘What am I doing?’ It was a funny story.”

Your second move was from Grêmio to Liverpool. Was it a feeling of ‘now or never’ in terms of coming to Europe? “A few people said I was a bit crazy to come to England, actually, because normally we see Brazilian players leaving Brazil for Portugal or Spain, where the coaching is similar and the language is easier. But Liverpool came and I couldn’t say no, really. It was the same as when I was 14 and moved away from Dourados – that was my chance then, and I thought: ‘This is my chance now, and I have to take it.’ Of course it was a big move that came with a lot of pressure, so it was another stage of my career where I had to learn a lot and be patient. I had to have determination to get to where I wanted to be. And, I think, after five years here I’m getting closer to where I want to be.” You post a lot of pictures on Twitter of your jaunts around the city. We’re curious – how does a boy from Brazil fall in love with Liverpool? “Liverpool is my home now. My son was born here, and now when I go back to Brazil it’s for holidays... and where I come back to, Liverpool, is home. I post pictures just to

“At the very beginning of my career here, I couldn’t speak any English. Carra came up to me in the dressing room and asked me a question... I didn’t understand a word” share a bit with the fans and to show them around Liverpool, because I don’t think a lot of people know how nice it is. All they know is The Beatles. Of course they are a big thing, but there is a lot more about Liverpool than The Beatles and the football. I didn’t know that either when I came here, to be honest. I only knew about the football club and The Beatles, but then I found out a lot of good things about the city and about the people – it’s a lovely city.” All Liverpool players have a Jamie Carragher story. What’s yours? “I do have one, yeah. At the very beginning of my career here I couldn’t speak any English, and Carra came up to me in the dressing room and asked me a question. I didn’t understand a word, but I just thought I had to

You play Spurs at Anfield on Sunday. Is that a game you think Liverpool have to win to be in with a chance of a European spot? “They are doing really well this season and you can see they’ve won quite a few games in the last few minutes – these things show their confidence is very high. We know the gap between us and the European places is quite big now [Liverpool are five points from fifth-placed Arsenal], but we just need to make sure that we play well. And, if we do that, we will have a big chance to win the game and move up the table. Unfortunately, we need teams to drop points now – but I think they will. And, of course, we need to make sure we drop less points than the others.” Do the players see genuine development under Brendan Rodgers? “The season has been a hard one for us, but we have a lot of positive things to take from it, and good performances against big teams. We are always trying to find the consistency – that’s what we try to do for the next 10 games. If we can find it, then for sure the next season will be a better one.” Lucas was speaking to Graham Beecroft

LiverpooL’s Foundations Lucas is an ambassador for the Liverpool FC Foundation, which provides community, health and education programmes that inspire positive change and build better futures for young people and adults. “When you see the projects the foundation runs, you appreciate what you have in life,” he says. “ When you have a bad game, you realise that you have a lot of people around you who have been in worse moments, and that’s why you have to keep going. I love spending time with the kids, because it’s good for them. But I think it’s good for me as well. Even if you can only spend an hour with them, you can see a smile on the kids’ faces. It makes you very happy.” Follow the Liverpool FC Foundation on Twitter at @LFCFoundation

| March 8 2013 | 37

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images, Ant Clausen Photography Ltd

Luis Suárez is such a competitor on the pitch. Is he the same on the training ground? Do you have to get out of the way quick if he goes in for a tackle? “Yeah, he is. It’s just his character, and that’s why he’s so successful – because he has the hunger to win all the time. He’s having a fantastic season and we just hope he keeps going and getting better and better. It’s difficult to imagine if he gets better, where he will be, but he is doing very well for us.”


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Leap of faith Tuesday March 12-Friday March 15 Daily terrestrial coverage on channel 4 froM 12.35pM; all races are shown live on racing UK

The Cheltenham Festival: a glorious sporting week during which every trainer, jockey and punter crosses their fingers and hopes for things to go their way. In our special eight-page preview, we speak with the biggest names, look ahead to the biggest races and feature tips from at least one genuine expert... >

| March 8 2013 | 39

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Cheltenham 2013 The Festival


Cheltenham 2013 The Festival

the green-And-golden the most fAmous jumps jockey of them All mAy not ride As mAny winners As BArry gerAghty or ruBy wAlsh At this yeAr’s cheltenhAm festivAl, But Ap mccoy hAs A joB he wouldn’t swAp for Anything

T

hink of AP McCoy, the greatest National Hunt jockey of all time, and it is hard to picture him in anything other than the green and gold hoops of the legendary owner JP McManus. It is a professional relationship that goes back the best part of a decade, and one that won its place in racing history when the pair combined with the great jockey-turnedtrainer Jonjo O’Neill to win the 2010 Grand National with Don’t Push It. It was an ironic name for a horse ridden by McCoy, a man whose reputation has been built on an ability to push his mounts to the absolute limit of their powers, but there is no doubt how much winning such a huge race for his chief employer meant to him. “I’m very lucky to ride for a huge supporter of jumps racing in JP, and feel privileged to be wearing those colours every time I go out,” he told Sport in an exclusive interview ahead of this year’s Cheltenham Festival. “Barry [Geraghty] and Ruby [Walsh] are obviously fortunate to ride for powerful stables, and both will have exceptionally good rides through the week, but in the past three years I’ve been lucky enough to win the Grand National, the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup in those colours. That has probably given me as much satisfaction as anything in my entire riding career.”

A sport for wArriors

Anyone who watched McCoy’s victorious ride on Synchronised in last year’s Gold Cup, a masterclass of patience and persistence aboard a horse not obviously built for jumping, will appreciate the satisfaction of which he speaks. The 38-year-old is not prone to retrospection or nostalgia, more interested always in where his next winner is coming from, but he nods when we recall a similar festival ride – on Wichita Lineman in the 2009 William Hill Trophy Handicap Chase. “Those two in particular would be huge favourites because of their attitude and their will to win,” he says. “They were both great warriors. No matter how many winners you ride or how good a jockey people think you are, you can’t win races without the horse. I can’t take a donkey to the Gold Cup and make it win. Once you’ve got

40 | March 8 2013 |

the right horse, all you can do is point it in the right direction and try to make it go faster than the others.” There is an element of poignancy as McCoy remembers these great warriors, for both Synchronised and Wichita Lineman were to lose their lives on the racecourse – the former in front of millions of TV viewers in last year’s Grand National. More recently, McCoy was on board the hugely talented Darlan, a Champion Hurdle contender also owned by McManus, when the horse suffered a fatal fall at Doncaster. “It’s the most difficult part of the sport, obviously,” he admits. “I’ve unfortunately had not just horses, but also good friends, who have been fatally injured. We wish these things never happened, of course, and you always wish you could turn back the clock and stop them from ever happening again... but unfortunately it just isn’t that easy. When you’re taking part in a competitive and sometimes dangerous sport, accidents can happen.”

second coming?

Five days after the tragic death of Darlan, McCoy was back in the famous green and gold to ride My Tent Or Yours in the prestigious Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. With fate seemingly smiling on the McCoy-McManus axis, the six-year-old duly destroyed a top-class field en route to establishing himself as a strong favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Twelve months on from the champion jockey having to wait until the final day of the festival to ride his first winner, McCoy is well placed to get off the mark in the very first race. “On official ratings he’s pretty good,” he smiles. “He was impressive at Newbury, and will probably go to the Supreme Novices’ as one of the highest-rated horses ever to run in it. I hope the handicapper is right, and that he is that good – because if he is then he’s going to win. “I wouldn’t want to be picking another horse to finish in front of him, if that’s what you’re asking me – and certainly wouldn’t be swapping him for any other horse at Cheltenham. Yes, there are short-priced favourites like Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig, but I wouldn’t swap My Tent Or Yours for anything else.” Tony Hodson @tonyhodson1


Champion jockey AP McCoy gives us the lowdown on some of his other big rides at this year’s festival

Binocular

Champion hurdle, Tuesday “Binocular was never right last year; he had a long time off after the Champion Hurdle [in which he finished fourth], and ran okay in Ireland in January. Heavy ground wouldn’t have been ideal for him then, but Hurricane Fly still beat him on the bridle. He’ll improve for quicker ground, but he’s going to need to.”

alBertas run

ryanair Chase, Thursday “A great horse who has won three times for me at the festival, and he only just got pipped last year. He’s 12 now, and it would be fantastic if he could win a third Ryanair, but it’s not going to be easy. He’s a lovely horse and is in good shape, but he does need nice ground.”

at fishers cross

alberT barTleTT noviCes’ hurdle, Friday “He’s been a good, tough, genuine horse all season, beating The New One at Cheltenham last time. He seems to prefer soft ground, but hopefully he’ll go okay if the ground does dry up. He might not be the best racehorse we’ve ever seen, but he knows how to dig it out – whatever beats him will know they’ve had a proper race.”

alderwood

Grand annual Chase, Friday “It’s quite tough in those big-field handicaps at Cheltenham, and you want your horse to have plenty of experience going into it. He doesn’t really have that yet [having had only four runs over fences], but he ran okay in his first handicap in Ireland last month and could definitely be one to watch.”

27

numBer of cheltenham festival winners ridden By aP mccoy. that Puts him second on the all-time list, seven Behind ruBy walsh

Download the free Sport iPad app from the Apple Newsstand | 41

Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

touch

Best of the rest


Cheltenham 2013 The Festival

Day 1: Champion hurDle 3.20pm

GranD expeCtations

hree years after Binocular returned from a muscle problem to turn a supposedly competitive Champion Hurdle into a procession, his trainer Nicky Henderson might just repeat the feat with his talented six-year-old hurdler Grandouet. The gelding (above, in green) has been seen only once on the track since the end of 2011, and missed his intended prep race for Cheltenham with a slight near-fore injury; but the huge potential he has shown in his hurdling career to date, coupled with his trainer’s masterful record at the festival, suggest it is worth keeping the faith. If Grandouet is to earn Henderson a record sixth Champion Hurdle win, however, he will have to see off a competitive field. The bookies are convinced that 2010 winner Hurricane Fly is back to his best, despite him beating nothing in Ireland this season, while reigning champ Rock On Ruby needs to be taken much more seriously than he was 12 months ago. Binocular is still around, but perhaps the biggest danger to Grandouet

T

42 | March 8 2013 |

is a horse who would appear to have his measure. The Paul Nicholls-trained Zarkandar is three from three this season, including a two-length win over Grandouet at Cheltenham in December – but the former was carrying four pounds less than the vanquished that day, and looked a fitter horse. Granted good ground and a strong pace behind which he can use his impressive cruising speed, Grandouet can finally have his day in the sun. Elsewhere on a superb opening-day card, the mighty Quevega will win her fifth straight OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (4.40pm), Simonsig can defeat the admirable Overturn in the Racing Post Arkle (2.05pm), while the underrated Dodging Bullets can get the meeting off to a winning start for Paul Nicholls in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm).

last year, roCk on ruby beCame only the fourth horse in the last 30 years to win the Champion hurDle havinG not run sinCe the start of the year

a fit anD firinG GranDouet Can return from a reCent injury sCare to take the feature raCe of Day one for a trainer who has previous on that sCore

expert view with paul kealy of the raCinG post Day one of the Cheltenham Festival features a cracking Champion Hurdle, in which the last three winners are set to do battle – yet the reigning champ is not even in the first two in the betting. Rock On Ruby caused a minor upset when winning last year, but there was no fluke about it as he took up the running a long way from home and was further clear at the line than he was at the last flight of hurdles. The bookies can’t see past Hurricane Fly again, but there remains the suspicion that Cheltenham just isn’t his track, even though he won in 2010. Binocular, the 2009

winner, has run just once this term and needs to show a lot more. The opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle sees a shortpriced favourite in My Tent Or Yours. He looked brilliant on his last run at Newbury, but was he flattered by quickening up off a slow pace? Time will tell, but Grade 1 winner Melodic Rendezvous looks good value at around 10/1 against him. In the Racing Post Arkle, the ultra-versatile Overturn – classy on the flat and over hurdles – looks like being just as good over fences and should be up to giving Simonsig a fright.


stroller saCre?

o horse at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival will start at shorter odds than Sprinter Sacre, the jumping machine who in seven displays over fences has destroyed all opposition to the combined tune of 95 lengths. That represents an equine massacre – and the likelihood is that Nicky Henderson’s sensational seven-year-old will do the same again in Wednesday’s Champion Chase. “He’s getting a reputation that does put the pressure on,” says Henderson. “Nothing but the best will do – the spectacular – and if he doesn’t do that then people aren’t happy. But that’s what he’s come to do every time, and it’s great to watch for everyone bar us.” Few onlookers will share Henderson’s nerves, as Sprinter Sacre should find little to get him off the bridle – and that includes defending champion Finian’s Rainbow or 2011 winner Sizing Europe, neither of whom are certain to even run. The reality is that whichever horses do line up to take on the favourite will be racing for second place.

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With muCh of the opposition sCareD aWay, WeDnesDay’s Champion Chase CoulD be little more than a stroll in the park for the phenomenal sprinter saCre

Sprinter Sacre’s likely dominance stands alone on a card that is plenty competitive elsewhere. The Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2.05pm) looks like being one of the contests of the week, with Pont Alexandre, Taquin Du Seuil and Puffin Billy all boasting claims in a race we think can go to The New One. The RSA Chase (2.40pm) is a three-mile novices’ race traditionally won by battlehardened warhorses. That casts doubts over the chances of favourite Dynaste, who comes here off the back of a longish break and after three facile victories. Irish horses have won three of the past four runnings, and Lord Windermere looks to have been aimed at this all season – he’s great each-way value at about 16/1.

1

Denman is the only rsa Chase Winner in the past DeCaDe to have gone into the raCe unbeaten over fenCes

expert vieW With paul kealy of the raCing post Sprinter Sacre is quite possibly the best two-mile chaser we’ve seen for 30 years or more, but you certainly won’t get rich backing him in the Champion Chase – he’s set to go off as one of the shortest-priced favourites in the history of the race. With only nine runners entered well in advance of the race, and most of those having possible other targets, the chances are that he’ll face little more than a victory dance. If you’re looking for a better-value bet on the day, why not have a pop at Houblon Des Obeaux at a

big price in the RSA Chase? He has ground to make up on favourite Dynaste, but that one could yet run elsewhere and this horse had his best form over hurdles at Cheltenham. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has the first two in the betting for the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, and the word from Ditcheat is that Saphir Du Rheu is the one doing everything right at home. Don’t be surprised if he is the mount of Ruby Walsh on the day, for a stable that took the race with a similar sort in Sanctuaire back in 2010.

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Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Day 2: Champion Chase 3.20pm


Cheltenham 2013 The Festival

Handling witH care He may be tHe most successful trainer in tHe History of tHe festival, but tHat doesn’t stop nicky Henderson’s nerves aHead of tHe most important week of His year

W

hen Bellvano romped home in the final race of last year’s Cheltenham Festival, it was the perfect ending to a near-perfect week for Nicky Henderson. Not only did the win give the trainer a second victory in a race named after his father, but it also secured him a seventh win of the meeting – not surprisingly, a festival record. “Last year was a complete freak the whole way through the week,” recalls Henderson now, smiling. “If you could just go and get one winner on the first day of the festival, you’re the happiest, most relieved man in the whole of Cheltenham... because then the pressure comes off for the rest of the week. “I think it was two years ago, we went into the final day without a winner – but then Bobs Worth won the Albert Bartlett and Long Run the Gold Cup. But it’s not much fun going in there after three blank days, I can tell you.” There is little to no chance of Henderson, the festival’s all-time leading trainer with 46 wins, having to suffer such a fate this year. In My Tent Or Yours and Simonsig, the 62-year-old boasts strong favourites in each of the festival’s opening two races, while the majestic Sprinter Sacre is the certainty of the week in Wednesday’s Champion Chase.

As we analyse below, it is not beyond the realms of belief that Henderson could emerge victorious from every one of the festival’s four major races. Not that he thinks so. “It’s not inconceivable, no, but it’s highly, highly unlikely,” he says. “You’ve got the ammo, sure, but all of those horses have to be trained, to stay in one piece and then get there fit and well on the day. You’ve got to have an awful lot of luck.” There is a nervousness to Henderson that belies the strength of character required to train nearing half a century of festival winners. Perhaps it’s because Cheltenham means so much to him. His father Johnny, after whom the week-ending Grand Annual Chase is named, was a high-ranking Army officer who later worked in the City and was integral to the safeguarding of Cheltenham racecourse long before the festival became what it is today. “I was meant to follow Dad into the City, but I escaped,” says the Eton-educated Henderson. “But he did an awful lot for racing, and these days we all live around the festival. Compared with flat racing, National Hunt racing is top-heavy around this one meeting. It all comes down to these four days... it really does.” Tony Hodson @tonyhodson1

festival slam? we assess tHe Horses tHat could give nicky Henderson an unprecedented victory in all four of tHe major cHampionsHip races at tHis year’s festival

44 | March 8 2013 |

cHampion Hurdle

Lost his main hope Darlan in tragic circumstances at Doncaster, but still has two chances. Former winner Binocular has a bit to prove after a lacklustre return in January, while the talented Grandouet has had a recent injury scare. Hasn’t stopped us tipping him up, mind.

cHampion cHase

Defending champion Finian’s Rainbow should line up to defend his crown, but Henderson also trains the outstanding (and shortest-priced) favourite of the entire festival in Sprinter Sacre. The Black Aeroplane will win this by a street.

world Hurdle

Just Oscar Whisky to line up for the Cheltenham maestro here, in one of the most intriguing races of the week. Could start favourite and is undoubtedly the best horse in the race, but doubts linger as to whether he genuinely stays the three-mile trip.

gold cup

Former winner Long Run goes once more, but long-time antepost favourite Bobs Worth, unbeaten in four starts at Cheltenham, looks the most likely to give Henderson a second Gold Cup. Don’t be surprised if he does.


thE King is dEad...

hursday at the festival has in recent years been given over to two things: St Patrick’s Day and Big Buck’s. While the former will still be celebrated – and in style – the latter will be at home, injury depriving him of the chance to win a fifth straight World Hurdle. In his absence, punters are faced with a conundrum. Can Nicky Henderson’s classy Oscar Whisky stay the gruelling three-mile trip? Will Reve De Sivola (pictured, clearing the jump), who beat him at Cheltenham in January, prove as adept on quicker ground? Can Donald McCain bring former festival winner Peddlers Cross back to his best? Or can the Irish, represented by Monksland and Solwhit, win for the first time since 1995? Our preference, as indicated by the bold up there, is for Reve De Sivola. His trainer Nick Williams is long overdue a first festival success – but it’s a tricky race, and one we wouldn’t advise lumping heavily on. Elsewhere on Thursday, the Ryanair Chase (2.40pm) is another competitive affair.

T

with injury dEpriving four-timE winnEr Big BucK’s of thE chancE to dEfEnd his crown, thursday’s fEaturE racE looKs to BE aBsolutEly widE opEn

Defending champ Riverside Theatre has run two bad races since his dramatic victory 12 months ago, while two-time former winner Albertas Run is unlikely to be improving at the age of 12. First Lieutenant makes a compelling case for the Irish, as does former Champion Chase winner Sizing Europe, who has never been out of the first three in 21 chase starts. But our choice is Cue Card, who ran Sprinter Sacre as close as anything last year and looks well suited to the two-and-a-half-mile trip. Oh, and keep an eye on Vino Griego in the Byrne Group Plate (4pm). Gary Moore’s eight-year-old took an age to get off the mark over fences, but he comes here on the back of two very good wins and looks a more trustworthy character these days.

14

fourtEEn of thE past 17 winnErs of thE ByrnE group platE havE carriEd 10st 10lBs or lEss – as did thE first thrEE homE last yEar

ExpErt viEw with paul KEaly of thE racing post The staying hurdlers get their day in the sun today, and Reve De Sivola looks the one most likely to do the business. Though not taking to fences over the past couple of seasons, he has proved this term that he is still top-class over hurdles – and he’s won three of the past four Grade 1s he has run in. The only horse to beat him in a three-mile hurdle is the legend that is Big Buck’s, but he’s not here this year. There’s another three-mile hurdle on the Thursday: the Pertemps Final, in which Captain Sunshine should be considered at big odds,

although there are risks involved. He’s a bit quirky, to say the least, and has refused to race once already this term. But his finishing effort when second from the back over three miles at Newbury on his latest start – coming home after the last much faster than all of the horses in the top-class two-mile handicap hurdle on the same day – had to be seen to be believed. The Ryanair Chase is another Grade 1 on this card. If First Lieutenant gets the nod here, instead of going for the Gold Cup on Friday, he’d be the one to beat.

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Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

day 3: world hurdlE 3.20pm


Cheltenham 2013 The Festival

that FriDay FeelinG

here will be an ineluctable sense of absence around Cheltenham on Friday, as the horsey world comes to terms with the fact that, for the first time since 2006, there will be no Kauto Star lining up for the Gold Cup. The great Kauto is now plying his trade in the murky, largely unintelligible world of dressage, while another former winner, the 2010 hero Imperial Commander, sadly misses the race with a lung infection. Long Run, champ in 2011 before finishing third to Synchronised last year, is back for another crack, however. It’s a younger horse’s game these days, though – a fact reflected in the betting being dominated by three horses that have not a single Gold Cup appearance between them. If you believe the bookies, the race revolves around the Nicky Henderson-trained Bobs Worth, twice a festival winner and unbeaten in four starts at the track; Irish raider Sir Des Champs (above), another to boast an unblemished Cheltenham record; and Silviniaco Conti, three from three this

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46 | March 8 2013 |

season and the new great hope from the yard of Paul Nicholls. The past 12 winners of this race have come from the first three in the betting, so we should probably expect it to be between these three. If you are looking to get out of jail on the final day, then Salsify looks good to repeat last year’s win in the Foxhunter Chase (4pm), Our Vinnie can make the frame at a decent price in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2.40pm), and last year’s County Hurdle winner Alderwood should go close in the Grand Annual. If it all goes wrong, however, don’t blame us. See next week’s edition of Sport for a full preview of the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup, with expert analysis from Paul Kealy of the Racing Post

niCky henDerson has maDe the Frame in the triumph hurDle 2007 (1.30pm) in every year he’s haD a runner sinCe 2007. he runs rollinG star this year

FriDay at the Festival Doesn’t just mean the GolD Cup... it’s also last-ChanCe saloon For all those lookinG to enD the week in some kinD oF proFit

expert view with paul kealy oF the raCinG post The final day of the festival is the hardest of all for punters because it will feature loads of huge fields – and that starts with the Triumph Hurdle. That race has been a lot better for punters in recent years, though, with only one of the past eight winners (last year’s, as it happens) going off at double-figure odds. Word has it that Paul Nicholls is very sweet on the chances of Far West, but Our Conor arguably has the best form and certainly has a good change of gear. He is taken to improve the admittedly poor record of

Irish-trained runners in the race. The County Hurdle will not look any easier on the day than it does now, but Ifandbutwhynot is a horse who travels very well off a strong pace and should be primed to challenge as they enter the straight. Bringing down the curtain on this four-day punt-fest is the Grand Annual, and Tom George could have the answer with the fastimproving Rody. He was an exceptionally easy eightlength winner of his last start at Warwick, and the second, third and fourth all scored next time.

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Warren Little/Getty Images

Day 4: Cheltenham GolD Cup 3.20pm


Advertising Feature

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www.royalnavy.mod.uk/navyjobs 48 | March 8 2013 |

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| 49


7 Days OUR PICK OF THE ACTION FROM THE SPORTING WEEK AHEAD

MAR 8-MAR 14 HIGHLIGHTS » Football: FA Cup Quarter Finals » p52 » Football: Premier League Preview» p54 » Football: Champions League Preview» p56 » Basketball: LA Lakers v Chicago Bulls » p58 » Snooker: Players Tour Championship Grand Finals » p58

SATURDAY TENNIS | BNP PARIBAS OPEN | INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA | SKY SPORTS 4 9PM

Murray’s desert storm Andy Murray hasn’t hit a

tournament, explaining the need

competitive ball since his

to be “smart with his scheduling”

defeat to Novak Djokovic in the

and to spend more time with his

Australian Open final, but that’s

wife and twin daughters.

not to say he’s been idle. The world

the Mexico Open final, Rafael Nadal

hotel in Stirlingshire and plans to

has confirmed he will continue

refurbish it into a five-star resort

his comeback in California, but

that will reopen ahead of the 2014

current world number one and

Ryder Cup, staged a short drive

two-time winner Djokovic will

away at Gleneagles.

still be favourite to start off the

He’s also been training hard with coach Ivan Lendl in Miami, choosing not to follow the

Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images

Having thrashed David Ferrer in

number three has bought a £2m

American hard-court season with a trophy. The Williams sisters are missing

tournament trail to Dubai –

from the women’s draw (they’ve

a decision that’s not surprising

refused to play in Indian Wells

when you consider he’s failed to

since Serena was booed by the

make it beyond his first match in

crowd there in 2001), so it will be

Indian Wells for the past two years.

up to world number two – and 2012

Holder Roger Federer,

winner – Victoria Azarenka to lead

meanwhile, is looking for a fifth

the way. Maria Sharapova could

title in the desert. The 31-year-old

stand in her way, if she’s recovered

has already announced plans to

from her most recent outing at the

take a two-month break after the

Oscars. Tough gig, this tennis lark.

50 | March 8 2013 |

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7 Days Sunday FootBAll | FA Cup QuArtEr FinAl: mAnChEstEr unitEd v ChElsEA | old trAFFord | itv 1 4.30pm It might have gone under the radar with many outside west London, but Chelsea have actually won four of the past six FA Cups. Roman Abramovich can sack as many managers as he wants, it seems, but his club’s recent penchant for success in this great old competition (in association with Budweiser) remains unaffected. It’s not been a straightforward defence of the cup they won against Liverpool last May, however.

No quarter given

They’d have gone out to Brentford in the fourth round, were it not for the collector’s item of a meaningful Fernando Torres strike, and now face a stern test of their credentials against champions elect Manchester United at Old Trafford. Domestic cup ties between these two have gone one way or the other in recent seasons. The 2007 FA Cup final was a desperate affair won by a Didier Drogba goal late in extra time, thus depriving neutrals of the penalty shootout that would have offered at least a modicum of excitement. By stark contrast, this season’s meeting in the Capital One Cup was an absolute humdinger, Ramires (left) netting the decisive goal in a 5-4 Chelsea win. With Rafa Benitez seemingly secure in his fundamentally insecure post of interim manager for now, he is charged with getting enough out of his allegedly mutinous charges to secure Chelsea a first win at Old Trafford for three years. United haven’t lost a domestic match since Norwich turned them over in November, though – you wouldn’t expect them to lose this one either.

Saturday FA Cup: mAnChEstEr City v BArnslEy | EtihAd stAdium Espn 5.30pm

Sunday FA Cup: millWAll v BlACkBurn | thE dEn | Espn 2pm

Twelve months after a heartbreaking semi-final

The 2011 FA Cup was Roberto Mancini’s first

The glamour tie of the round pits the

defeat to neighbours Liverpool, Everton are on

trophy in England, and this year’s quarter-final

Championship’s longest-serving manager,

the verge of a return to Wembley. All that stands

draw has given him ample chance of making the

Millwall’s Kenny Jackett, against Michael Appleton,

between them is Roberto Martinez and a Wigan

2013 version his next. His side is not exactly

the ringmaster who has brought some semblance

side fresh from their own mauling at the hands of

scoring freely of late, but Carlos Tevez and pals

of normality to the chicken-funded circus that is

the red side of the city. The Spaniard says FA Cup

should make hay against Championship relegation

Blackburn Rovers. Neither side is setting the world

success has “helped us in the confidence and

fodder Barnsley. It’s five years since the Tykes put

alight at the moment, both having lost at home to

belief we bring into the league”. His team are,

both Liverpool and Chelsea out on their way to the

the mighty Peterborough in recent weeks, but home

however, without a win in nine against the Toffees.

semis. Luke Steele, the goalkeeping hero behind

advantage could prove enough for the Lions. And,

Expect that run to continue, with old boy Leighton

that run, remains, but reality says he and his

for what it’s worth, they also won 2-0 at Ewood

Baines a likely source of woe for the Latics.

teammates are up against it here.

Park back in November. How’s that for a form guide?

52 | March 8 2013 |

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Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images, Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images, Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty Images, Tom Shaw/Getty Images

Saturday FA Cup: EvErton v WigAn | goodison pArk itv 1 12.45pm


7 Days

Premier League Two of the Premier League’s young managers go head to head this weekend, with two of the league’s best players in tow... SUNDAY liverpool v tottenham | anfield | SKY SportS 1 4pm

“He is a player who can make the difference,”

“There isn’t a better striker in the Premier League.”

particularly if Jermain Defoe – who was only fit

was the praise won by young Brazilian Philippe

A certain Manchester-based Scot will beg to differ,

enough to come off the bench last weekend –

Coutinho from his manager Brendan Rodgers last

but Spurs boss André Villas-Boas might consider

plays from the start. Jamie Carragher and Daniel

weekend. But it’s a compliment that can also be

himself forewarned ahead of his side’s trip to

Agger will be tasked with faring better than the

applied to a couple of other players who’ll be on

the northwest.

Gunners’ centre-back pairing (not too tricky),

the pitch at Anfield this weekend. Gareth Bale and Luis Suárez both lived up to

Having picked up points at Anfield for the past

while the impressive Liverpool attack that ripped

two seasons, and riding high on what their manager

Wigan to shreds last weekend will look to get in

their billings as the main threat in their respective

called “an upward spiral in terms of confidence”,

behind the Spurs defence more effectively than

sides last weekend, with Bale opening the scoring

Spurs sit third – and will be looking to widen the

Arsenal’s did (again, not exactly a challenge).

for Tottenham in their win over Arsenal and Suárez

gap between themselves and Chelsea in fourth.

netting a hat-trick to help Liverpool thrash Wigan. Rodgers was obviously in a generous mood after the final whistle, when he said of Suarez:

54 | March 8 2013 |

Their defence-splitting tactics against Arsenal

Tottenham are unbeaten in 12 in the league – their best run since the Premier League began.

yielded two goals in quick succession. Liverpool

Liverpool, on the other hand, haven’t lost in eight.

could face more of the same on Sunday,

Two teams on the up – it could be a cracker.


saturday reading v aston villa | madejski stadium | 3pm

After scoring just four goals in their past 10 league games, QPR found the

A game that marks a battle between two men who would have to share the

back of the net twice in 90 minutes against Southampton last weekend.

award for grumpiest middle-aged manager of the year this season, if it

Rangers’ third win of the season came amid allegations that a warm-weather

existed (it should). It’s perhaps unsurprising, given that Brian McDermott and

training trip to Dubai was (shock, horror) an excuse for a booze-up. The story

Paul Lambert’s sides have spent much of the past seven months in the bottom

was dismissed as “a load of nonsense” by QPR manager Harry Redknapp, whose

three. Reading have lost three on the trot, but are clearly up for a fight, scoring

team worked hard for a 2-1 win at St Mary’s. If it is to be the start of a great

eight of their last 11 league goals inside the last 10 minutes – though that’s not

escape, QPR need to consolidate that positive result with another one against

much use if you’ve already conceded three.

Sunderland. Martin O’Neill’s side have good memories of their last trip to Loftus

With just one point separating the sides, it’s a classic six-pointer. Lambert’s

Road – they nicked a winner in the 89th minute in December 2011. And, with just

side were 1-0 winners when the teams met at Villa Park last year, with Christian

six points separating them from the drop zone, their own battle is far from over.

Benteke proving the difference. Will it be that man again?

saturday norwich v southampton carrow road | 3pm

saturday west brom v swansea | the hawthorns | 3pm

sunday newcastle v stoke |st james’ park | 3pm

Premier League tabLe W D

L

F

A

1

Man Utd

28 23 2

P

3

68

31

71

2

Man City

28

17

8

3

51

24

59

3

Tottenham

28

16 6

6

49 33

54

4

Chelsea

28

15

7

6

56 30

52

5

Arsenal

28

13

8

7

53 32

47

6

Everton

28

11 12

5

44 35

45

7

Liverpool

28

11

8

53 34

42

8

Swansea

28

10 10 8

39 34

40

9

West Brom

40

9

Pts

28

12 4 12

38 37

10 Fulham

28

8

9

11

39 44

33

11 Stoke

28

7

12 9

26 33

33

12 West Ham

28

9

6 13

32

33

13 Norwich

28

7

11 10

27 45

32

14 Sunderland

28

7

9 12

31

38

30 30

41

“This was never going to define

West Brom are yet to beat Swansea

Tony Pulis admitted his side have

15 Newcastle

28

8

6 14

38 49

our season,” said Norwich boss

in the Premier League, and it’s the

“gone a bit flat” after their defeat

16 Southampton 28

6

9 13

39

51

27

28

6

6 16

33 55

24 24

Chris Hughton after his side took

Swans who have all the momentum.

to West Ham last weekend. Some

17 Wigan

a 4-0 beating at Old Trafford last

The League Cup winners absorbed

might ponder whether they have

18 Aston Villa

28

5

9 14

26 53

weekend. He’s right – a win for the

plenty of pressure before scoring

been anything but this season –

19 Reading

28

5

8

34 54

23

20 QPR

28

3

11 14

21

20

Canaries against Southampton

the only goal of their win over

not us. We’re still impressed by the

would put them within five points

Newcastle last weekend – a result

Potters’ ability to remain a mid(ish)-

of the magic 40, and leave Saints

that took them to eighth in the

table side, no matter what occurs on

struggling. It was honours even

league. The Baggies are level on

the pitch. It’s a skill. They have lost

when the sides met in November,

points, though, and boss Steve

their last two, though, and another

when a mistake from Saints

Clarke will be keen for revenge after

defeat to Newcastle on Sunday

goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga

Swansea outclassed them in a 3-1

could see them sink worryingly

gifted Norwich a point.

defeat at the Liberty in November.

south of the middle.

53

15

44

Liverpool’s total of 53 goals from 28 games is their second best at this stage of a Premier League season

Download the free Sport iPad app from the Apple Newsstand | 55

All pictures Getty Images

saturday qpr v sunderland | loftus road | 3pm


7 Days WEDNESDAY FOOTBALL | CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LAST 16, SECOND LEG: BAYERN MUNICH v ARSENAL (3:1) | ALLIANZ ARENA | SKY SPORTS 2 7.45PM

Mission impossible

Arsenal’s season is hanging by a single thread.

the introduction of Olivier Giroud in the second half;

just once in their past 17 Champions League away

The derby defeat to Tottenham leaves them five

he could start in Munich, with Walcott providing

games. Their defence is still ravaged by injuries,

points off fourth in the league, and their impressive

width on the right.

particularly down the left, with Kieran Gibbs still

record of 15 consecutive Champions League

injured and new signing Nacho Monreal cup-tied for

qualifications looks under serious threat. There is

Pressing concern

this competition. Bayern looked to exploit this flank

one way out, though: the route Chelsea memorably

The Germans pressed a high line to deny Arsenal’s

in the first leg, as Thomas Vermaelen was being

used last season. Unfortunately for the Gunners, it

centre backs time on the ball in the first leg. Per

played out of position at left-back – two of their

involves overturning a 3-1 deficit away at Bayern

Mertesacker to Laurent Koscielny was one of

three goals came from moves down that side.

Munich, and then winning the whole damn thing.

Arsenal’s most frequently played passes, indicating

Lukas Podolski is an experienced competitor at

the extent to which this tactic helped stifle them.

this level, but didn’t provide Vermaelen with much

Over the top

Jupp Heynckes’ tactic could change with Arsenal

protection in the first leg. That’s something Arsène

Let’s break that down. First off, Arsenal will need to

having to chase the game. He could instead look to

Wenger will need to look at, even if he insisted

score at least three goals. The Munich defence may

ape Tottenham’s success with Gareth Bale and

before the Tottenham game: “We don’t plan for

not have looked that organised when they farcically

Aaron Lennon with his own pacy wingers, and try

anybody. It is always the same – focus on our

allowed Lukas Podolski to head home in the first leg,

to get in behind the Gunners on the break. Thomas

strengths and forget about your opponent.”

but they’re a tight unit. In nine matches in 2013, the

Müller has generally been preferred to Arjen Robben

Germans have conceded on just one other occasion

this season, but the Dutchman scored a cracking

scoreline. He knows that, even if Arsenal play at

– against Werder Bremen. They won that game 6-1.

goal against Dortmund in the German cup last week

their very best, they’ll need a miracle to progress.

and could be given the nod because of his pace.

It’s worth remembering – if you’re a Gooner seeking

Theo Walcott started up front in the first leg, with the aim of testing the speed of Bayern’s defenders,

Wenger can’t forget, however, about the

comforting thoughts – that Arsenal were in a worse

but he managed just one attempt on goal as the

Rearguard action

position last year and almost pulled back a 4-0

Germans sat a little deeper than usual to counter his

Even if Arsenal manage to score three, they’ll need

deficit against Milan. As Chelsea demonstrated so

threat. The Gunners looked far more of a threat with

to keep a clean sheet – something they’ve managed

dramatically last May, anything is possible.

56 | March 8 2013 |


Falling apart

TUESDAY FOOTBALL | CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LAST 16, SECOND LEG: SCHALKE v GALATASARAY (1:1) | TURK TELECOM ARENA | SKY SPORTS 2 7.45PM

WEDNESDAY FOOTBALL | CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LAST 16, SECOND LEG: MALAGA v PORTO (0:1) | LA ROSALEDA | SKY SPORTS 4 7.45PM

Hamit goes home

Big Willy style

It’s been a bad few weeks for Barcelona. They’ve

The most delicately poised of this week’s ties sees

Málaga are banned from European competitions

lost three of their past four games, two Clasico

Galatasaray’s new stars visit Schalke, who have an

for next season because of some unpaid bills,

defeats compounding the misery of a shock 2-0

away-goal advantage thanks to the 1-1 draw in the

so they’re intent on getting as far as possible this

reversal to AC Milan in the first leg of this tie.

first leg. The teams were evenly matched in the

time around. The first-leg defeat to Porto was the

With manager Tito Vilanova receiving treatment

Turkish cauldron, but Schalke have a formidable

Champions League debutants’ only defeat in the

for cancer, it’s fallen to his assistant Jordi Roura to

home stadium of their own – they’re unbeaten at

competition so far, and their league form has

take the reins, and Barca’s season seems to be

the Veltins-Arena in Europe this season. The

suffered since the UEFA sanctions were

grinding to a halt. They crashed out of the Copa

additions of Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba,

announced in late December. The Spaniards have

del Rey to Real Madrid, and their league meeting

however, mean Galatasaray are unbeaten in seven.

conceded just twice in Europe at La Rosaleda, but

Their main threat could be former Schalke boy

will need to offer a lot more going forward if they

at the weekend descended into farce with goalkeeper Victor Valdes red-carded after the

Hamit Altintop – the Turkish midfielder was born in

final whistle for screaming at the referee. As you

Germany, and could pose a real threat to the club

would expect, Barcelona dominated possession in

that made him a star when drifting infield from the

restricting their opponents to just one attempt

the first leg at the San Siro, but managed as little

right or shooting from distance. Much of their

while hammering in 16 of their own. Six of those

as three attempts on target. AC Milan pulled off

good work in the first leg actually came down the

were on target, but they found Malaga stopper

the perfect anti-tiki-taka display – they sat deep,

left, though, with former Liverpool winger Albert

Willy hard to beat. The Argentine proved a stiff

pressed when required and were clinical on the

Riera getting forward in support of Sneijder.

opponent, letting just one well-worked João

counter-attack. With Roura forced to deny

Schalke, meanwhile, offer a more fluid threat

are to get through to the last eight. Porto dominated possession in the first leg,

Moutinho effort slip past him, and Porto will be

allegations that Barcelona’s players are suffering

than the Turks’ fairly traditional 4-4-2 – Michel

frustrated that they aren’t further in front going

a ‘crisis of confidence’, there’s every chance Milan

Bastos and Jefferson Farfan will look to feed

into the second leg. If Malaga are to extend their

could repeat the feat at the Nou Camp. Then again,

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who hasn’t replicated his

Champions League journey, their forward line of

there’s also every chance Leo Messi could turn on

form from last season but still has four goals in

Júlio Baptista and Roque Santa Cruz will need to

the style and score a ludicrous hat-trick.

seven Champions League games this year.

give big Willy a helping hand.

Download the free Sport iPad app from the Apple Newsstand

| 57

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images, David Ramos/Getty Images, Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images Claudio Villa/Getty Images

TUESDAY FOOTBALL | CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LAST 16, SECOND LEG: BARCELONA v AC MILAN (0:2) | NOU CAMP | ITV1 7.45PM


7 Days Tuesday > Snooker | Dafabet PtC GranD finalS | bailey allen Hall, national UniverSity of irelanD, Galway | britiSH eUroSPort 2 10am

Snooker’s Big Ears Snooker’s version of the Champions

and Shaun Murphy – Stevens has not

League begins on Tuesday. After 13

qualified for Galway. Allen, on the other

best-of-seven tournaments in the UK,

hand, qualified eighth in the UK/Europe

Europe and China, the top 25 in the PTC

Order of Merit and faces Mark Davis and

Order of Merit, top four in the Asian Order

then the prospect of Welsh Open

of Merit and three Asian Players Tour

champion Stephen Maguire in round two.

Championship winners have qualified for the finals in Galway. World number one Judd Trump (right)

Trump and Robertson are on the same side of the draw, with one of them likely to face Selby in the semis. There’s also

qualified second in the UK/Europe Order

a potential quarter final between the

of Merit behind world number two Mark

Jester from Leicester and one from John

Selby. The Ace looked the form player at

Higgins and Ali Carter, who play each

last week’s Haikou World Open, firing in

other in the first round.

three centuries as he blitzed Nigel Bond

Holder Stephen Lee will not appear,

5-1 to reach the quarters, but broke his tip

however, having been suspended by the

early on against Matthew Stevens and

WPBSA while snooker’s governing body

didn’t look comfortable from then on.

decides whether he has a case to answer

Stevens prevailed 5-3, but eventually went down 10-4 to Mark Allen in his first

over four allegations of match-fixing. It’s not quite the 680 games under

ranking final since 2008. But, despite

investigation in European football’s

having beaten three of the world’s top

premier club competition. But it’s another

four in Haikou – Trump, Neil Robertson

– unwelcome – similarity.

SUnDay nba | la lakerS v CHiCaGo bUllS | StaPleS Center, loS anGeleS | Sky SPortS 3 7.30Pm

Too little too Lakers?

After winning their division for five consecutive years, the mighty Los Angeles Lakers now find themselves fighting tooth and nail to try and scrape into the NBA postseason. It is unlikely to be an easy ride as, with 19 games left, they still have to face several playoff contenders. They do though, have a team of marquee players. Kobe Bryant is in excellent form and has (at time of writing) the third best points-per-game average in the NBA, while Dwight Howard boasts the top rebound average. Their defense has also If the Lakers do make the playoffs, their roster of ageing talent could test several of the best teams. Their opponents at the Staples Center on Sunday night are the Chicago Bulls, who are also battling to reach the playoffs. They have a solid team – including GB’s finest, Luol Deng – but have played the season without star point guard Derrick Rose, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament last year. If he can return in good form this season, he could reignite an offense that has the third lowest points-per-game in the league.

58 | March 8 2013 |

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Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images, Jeff Gross/Getty Images

improved since the turn of the year.


TWO WINNERS FOR CHELTENHAM

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EXtRA timE

P68 Warwick Davis is left holding the baby in Willow

Making the most of your time and money

Sound barrier Sonos PLAYBAR

A beautiful way to spruce up the sound of your favourite television shows, the PLAYBAR is Sonos’s first – and highly acclaimed – move into the home cinema market. Nine speakers are hidden within its sleek design, delivering richly textured sound to match your HD set. The cacophonous splash of Omid Djalili belly-flopping into a swimming pool in front of a live studio audience has never sounded quite this good. £599 | sonos.com

Google Chromebook Pixel

The search giant’s ongoing march towards world domination takes an attractive turn with their first high-end laptop. The Pixel is optimised for the web – its touch-enabled screen has an unusual 3:2 ratio better suited to browsing, and it has a super-sharp screen rivalled only by the Retina displays on Apple’s MacBooks. Chrome OS is another selling point – it’s quick to boot up, and syncs seamlessly with cloud-based storage. £1,049 | play.google.com

60 | March 8 2013 |

Beats by Dr. Dre Executive Headphones As the good doctor has risen up the medical hierarchy, he’s clearly found that his signature line of headphones, while well suited to the operating theatre, don’t quite cut it at boardroom level. That’s why he’s come out with an executive line of headphones, crafted from soft leather and stainless steel and with noise-cancelling technology. With all that technology, Dre will be running the NHS before too long. £270 | store.universal-music.co.uk

Sony NEX-3N Compact Camera

Like a liger or a zorse, this camera is a hybrid. It’s got interchangeable lenses from the world of DSLRs and the compact size of a more basic camera. Added to the mix are a flippable 7.5-inch LCD screen to help you aim your self-portraits a bit more easily; a 16.1-megapixel high sensitivity sensor and a new Auto Object Framing system for more professional results. Mate the whole thing with a zebra, et voila! £TBC | sony.co.uk

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ET

Kit

Yoga! Yoga! Yoga!

Ryan Giggs does yoga, and he’s on the verge of his billionth game. Ergo, if you do yoga, you can play sports for years to come. That’s how it works, right?

Quiksilver HB3 Hoodie

Patagonia Piton Bottoms

EcoMatt Sr Yoga Mat

Pineapple SoF Hoodie

alpineStars Howzit Tanktop

Spiro Performance Quick Dry Short Sleeve T-shirt

Puma aCTV Tights

gaiam Super grippy Yoga gloves

Make those ‘irritating talkers’ in your yoga class a thing of the past with this soft-brushed cotton hoodie. The integrated in-ear headphones mean you can subtly listen to your own relaxing sounds, while the clever tech makes them fully washable without dismantling. Clever. £70 | quiksilver.com

The motorsport kit makers produced this tanktop to wear under those pesky hot leathers, but it works for yoga too. It gets darned hot in those workout studios, but going topless is frowned upon – as we learned the hard way. This cotton top suits the task well. Even if you don’t have the Top Gun arms. £20 | alpinestars.com 62 | March 8 2013 |

A pull-on, elasticised waist offers comfort, while the stretchy Polartec Power Dry fabric helps to wick moisture away and keep you dry when things get a bit hot. A hidden zip pocket means you can head to the gym with just your house key as well, which is a nice touch. £75 | patagonia.com

It all sounds a bit techy, but the fast moisture-wicking control in this top basically keeps your skin cool and comfy as the room gets hotter. Even better, the plain design makes it ideal for getting something printed on the front, so you can make a statement. ‘Yippee for yoga’, anyone? £6 | spiroactivewear.com

Yoga, lesson one: get a good mat. And this blueberry and banana-coloured number (yup, really) fits the bill. It’s 100 per cent biodegradable, recyclable and latex- and PVC-free, while the textures offer superb grip to stop you slipping around as you switch between postures. £30 | amazon.co.uk

Designed for high performance and endurance sports, these leggings also tick the boxes for the yoga enthusiasts. A moisture -wicking finish will keep you dry, while the articulated knees will help your flexibility and the Puma tape interior aligns with your muscles to maximise your workout and reduce any pain. £100 | shop.puma.co.uk

Getting in touch with your inner Zen (that’s what yoga is about, right?) doesn’t mean you can’t be comfy. This Pineapple hoodie will do the job nicely, thanks to the soft cotton lining and the loose raglan sleeves. It also has a useful front pocket for carrying all those joss sticks. £18 | getthelabel.com

Not got a mat? Look up and left – there’s one there! If not, these gloves will help you. The blue grip dots allow you to take your mat with you – in a way – and provide a non-slip surface to help your balance and stability. Sport tip: the grip makes them good for lifting weights, too. £8 | johnlewis.com

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ET

Grooming

WITHIN RANGE

We have a pop with collections from three brands that fly straight into the top corner

Natio for Men

Looking haggard and a full 10 years older than your actual age? You know who you are. Fortunately, so does Natio. Its Age Renewal Moisturiser (£9.20, 50ml) with rosehip and vitamin C reduces the appearance of wrinkles, while its lightweight Rejuvenating Face Cream (£9.20, 100g) firms, replenishes and repairs. Its Muscle Soothing Heat Rub (£6.80, 110g), with peppermint and ginger, soothes and refreshes your aching body, while the Spice of Life Body Wash (£6.40, 150ml) with sage, clove and pepper, cleanses, softens and removes dead skin cells. Welcome back. lookfantastic.com

Dove Men+Care

Depending on your skin type, Dove has you covered: Hydrate+ for dry skin, Sensitive+ for sensitive skin, Revitalise+ for tired skin and Deep Clean+ for oily skin. We’ve picked out its Sensitive+ Moisturiser (£8.99, 50ml), because it absorbs quickly and isn’t greasy; its Hydrate+ Post Shave Balm (£5.49, 100ml), because it reduces irritation and soothes; and its Revitalise+ and Sensitive+ Shave Gels (both £3.49, 200ml) because they help prevent razor burn and leave skin smooth. boots.com

64 | March 8 2013 |

Jack Black

This exfoliating Body Rehab Scrub and Muscle Soak (£24.50, 403g), Turbo Wash Energising Cleaner for Hair & Body (for £16.95, 295ml of it will “jumpstart the body and awaken the mind”), Dry Down Friction Free Powder (£14.95, 170g) with a talc-free formula for chafe-free workouts, and Dragon Ice Relief & Recovery Balm (£18.50, 118ml) is all, like the actor of the same name, in your face but enormously talented in all sorts of ways. jacksmalegrooming.com

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Extra time Leeann Tweeden

66 | March 8 2013 |


| 67

APIX Syndication

eeann Tweeden has a formidable sports broadcasting CV. Not only does she currently anchor UFC Tonight on Fuel and host Poker After Dark on NBC, but she has also fronted the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (to give them their full title) pre- and post-game coverage on Fox Sports West, and Fox Sports Net’s Best Damn Sports Show Period. Tweeden, married to an airforce pilot, has also been tweetin’ about her – and we quote – “#favoritemovieofalltime”. “Top Gun in IMAX & 3D is about to happen!!!!!” And she’s mates with Oscar-nominated Hollywood cool guy Bradley Cooper. All of which, as far as Sport is concerned, pretty much makes her the best damn sports presenter. Period.

L

Anaheim Angel


ET

Entertainment

SouND AND ViSioN

Jude Law and Rooney Mara serve up a visual treat, while David Bowie proves there’s life in the old diamond dog yet

Film

Blu-ray

Willow

Side Effects

Steven Soderbergh has said that Side Effects will be his final film before he takes a possibly permanent break from directing. Good news that we won’t have to endure Ocean’s 78, but bad news if you enjoy intense, intelligent thrillers – and that’s what Soderbergh has served up as his parting shot. Side Effects stars so-hot-right-now Rooney Mara (above) as a woman who tries to commit suicide despite being apparently happy at the release

Music

The Next Day David Bowie

Available to stream now and to buy from next week, the latest offering from the Brixton chameleon doesn’t seem the album of a 66-year-old recluse. After kicking off with a jaunty guitar riff, the concise pop songs – such as Valentine’s Day – show Bowie hasn’t lost his way. It’s no Low, but it’s a better high than we had any right to expect. Out Monday

68 | March 8 2013 |

It was the butt of a few jokes (we use the term loosely) in Ricky Gervais’ Life’s Too Short, but Willow is a fun, flawed, fast-paced fantasy and very welcome on Blu-ray 25 years after its initial release. Warwick Davis is the eponymous Willow: a mocked, would-be sorcerer who has to protect an abandoned baby, but it’s Val Kilmer who steals the show as an arrogant, selfish, womanising swordsman. Must have been a real stretch for him to play the role. The special effects have aged, but all-new extras from Davis and director Ron Howard show that its creators definitely still have a big soft spot for it. As do we. Out Monday

of her husband from a jail stint for insider trading. She visits psychiatrist Jude Law and is eventually put on an experimental new drug, which helps dramatically. However, as the title hints, events soon take several dark turns. We won’t reveal all here, but safe to say – with an A-list cast and a director who has an almost Hitchcockian hand when it comes to crime, sex and a coiled, twisting plot – this psychological drama will keep you guessing right to the end. Out today

DVD

Sound City

Dave Grohl provides enthusiastic insight into US rock’s Abbey Road – LA’s Sound City Studios – in this lively, funny documentary. Neil Young, Nirvana, Metallica and many more all recorded there and – although the dilapidated studio closed in 2011 – the sight of a starstruck Grohl jamming with Paul McCartney shows the Sound City ethos endures. Out Monday

Music

Exhibition

The Servants Klak Tik

You expect the warm, overlapped vocals from acclaimed alt-folk band Klak Tik. What we weren’t expecting is each song packing in more playful melodies than a runaway ice cream van, as well as taking you in just as many unusual directions. Tracks such as Fire Souls have the depth and rich power to wash any lingering Mumford out of your ears. Out now

Aping the Beast Camden Arts Centre

If this is modern art – a towering, Godzilla-like monster puppet handmade in latex – well, count us in. This new, free-to-visit project from British artist Serena Korda is focused on fears of the unknown. It consists of two films, a series of performances and this four-metre-tall behemoth. Pop along and take it some Chewits. Opens today

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Sport magazine - issue 296  

Sport magazine - issue 296

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