The Weekend That Was – 21/4/14

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Connor Wickham has played a pivotal role in this season’s Premier League title race

Another weekend has been and gone in the sporting calendar and here’s my take on the top stories from the last few days, including Jose Mourinho’s first Premier League defeat at Stamford Bridge and Lewis Hamilton’s third Formula One victory in a row..

Chelsea’s Title Hopes Dealt a Terminal Blow

Sunderland were given little chance of picking up points this week ahead of visits to both Manchester City and Chelsea. Yet here we are, with the Black Cats four points better off than they were seven days ago and both of their hosts nearly eliminated from the title race. Connor Wickham, recalled from his loan spell at Leeds United, has scored three times in two games and the former Ipswich youngster will be popular on Merseyside thanks to his exploits against Liverpool’s title rivals. Fabio Borini, who ironically is on loan at Sunderland from Liverpool, will also be the toast of the Kop after his late penalty sunk Jose Mourinho’s men in Saturday’s shock 2-1 win for Gus Poyet’s team.

Perhaps most surprisingly of all, Sunderland’s success was completely deserved against a well below par Chelsea outfit. Although the Blues had taken the lead early on, Wickham’s equaliser saw Chelsea resort to long ball tactics for the final 45 minutes as Eden Hazard’s absence was felt. Despite the vast sums of money invested on the likes of Oscar, Andre Shurrle, Ramires and Fernando Torres none of Mourinho’s play-maker’s could make an impact and when Cesar Azpilicueta brought down Jozy Altidore in the box Borini was able to take full advantage and give Sunderland a Premier League lifeline, in the process quelling Mourinho’s title ambitions.

Hamilton Makes it Three in a Row in China

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes continued their domination of Formula One this season after the British driver and his German teammate Nico Rosberg completed another one-two in Shanghai. Hamilton won by over 18 seconds from Rosberg as he recorded the first hat-trick of wins in his career, which of course already includes one World Championship title. Fernando Alonso came third as Ferrari showed improvement from their early season form, but four time World Champion Sebastien Vettel struggled mightily yet again as he was beaten comfortably by his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. Mercedes appear to have adjusted to this season’s new engines far better than any team and a two man race for the title looks likely, although with Hamilton already well in front he’ll take some catching as the the drivers head to Catalunya.

Norwich Run Liverpool Close in Carrow Road Thriller

For the second week in succession Liverpool ran out 3-2 winners, although they would have anticipated a much easier ride when they took a 2-0 lead against struggling Norwich after just 15 minutes on Sunday. Raheem Sterling continued his breathless run of form by scoring two goals, the first a brilliant long range effort with his second taking an unfortunate (for Norwich) deflection. However his most impressive contribution may have been his exquisite through ball to Luis Suarez for the Reds second goal of the afternoon, a well weighted left footed cross that had Suarez licking his lips as he bore down on John Ruddy’s goal.

Brendan Rodgers assertion that Sterling is the top young player in Europe may be hyperbolic to say the least, but his recent performances shouldn’t go unnoticed and it would now be a surprise if the 19-year old wasn’t starting for England in their first game of this summer’s World Cup against Italy. Sterling’s pace and dribbling ability is enough to challenge even the best of defenders, and Roy Hodgson would be wise to capitalise on his playing relationship with Liverpool team-mates Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge. The title is Liverpool’s to lose and one of the main reasons behind that has been the stellar play of their English core, although Luis Suarez has also had a slight impact.

Moyes Season Goes from Bad to Worse.. Again

It hasn’t been a brilliant first season in charge of Manchester United for David Moyes and things took another disastrous turn for his team yesterday as his former club Everton completed the double over the Old Trafford side. Moyes has become somewhat of a record breaker this term and he’s set to break another in the coming weeks as Everton are almost certain to finish above United for the first time since 1990. Phil Jones handball led to Leighton Baines stroking home the hosts opening goal, while Kevin Mirallas doubled Everton’s advantage as the game finished 2-0. The win means Everton remain just a point behind Arsenal in the race for fourth place and Champions League football, something that is mathematically beyond United after their latest humbling result.

Have your say on the weekend’s action in the comments, or tweet @fredjstanley to get your views heard.

 

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