A walk in the park
LET’S see if I’ve got this right: go to Tesco, check. Go to work on public transport, check. Go to a park with a friend from another household for exercise, check. Drive to the country with a friend and go for a walk, check. Children can play sports while in school with kids from other households, check. Yet cannot play sports outside of school because of the risk of households mixing? (Clearly bonkers.) Play golf or tennis, absolutely not! Let’s take golf for example; apparently you cannot play golf because of the risk of mixing with other households and lack of social distancing – hogwash! Player A (me) leaves house, drives in own car to course, parks in corner of the car park, puts kit together, walks to first tee. Player B (for this example we’ll call him George) leaves house, drives in own car to course – you get the rest. Player A drives off and splits the fairway, player B drives off and the ball heads in the general direction of Antalya (they don’t call him George the slice for nothing). Eventually they meet up on the green, both hole out unless George has lost his ball and the pair move on to the next tee where this time George’s drive nearly ends up in Lefke. They next see each other on the green and the rest of the round follows the established pattern. After George runs out of balls they call it a day and drive home. Surely this is a perfect example of social distancing? As for household mixing we’re never less than the width of a tee box apart again debunking that particular rubbish. Honestly, I despair at the level of competence on display from our betters, but the scariest thing for me is that, in terms of politicians, there seem to be very few better alternatives on offer.
Quote of the week
“It’s great to see the referee go over and use the monitor . . . and get the decision wrong again!” Peter Crouch on Brighton’s equaliser against Spurs.
Team of the week
Aaron Ramsdale Sheffield United, Kyle Walker Citeh, Ruben Dias Citeh, Federico Fernandez Newcastle, Sergio Reguilon Spurs, N’Golo Kante Chelsea, Thomas Partey Arsenal, James Ward-Prowse Southampton, Hakim Ziyech Chelsea, Diogo Jota Liverpool, Danny Ings Southampton. Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl Southampton.
This week’s games
Premier League today 2:30; Everton vs United. 5pm; Palace vs Leeds. 7:30; Chelsea vs Sheffield United. 10pm; West Ham vs Fulham. Tomorrow 2pm; West Brom vs Spurs. 4pm; Leicester vs Wolves. 6:30; Citeh vs Liverpool. 9:15; Arsenal vs Villa. Selected Championship today 2:30 Reading vs Stoke. 5pm; Blackburn vs QPR. Brentford vs Middlesbrough, Derby vs Barnsley, Norwich vs Swansea, Watford vs Coventry. Selected Scotland tomorrow 2pm; Motherwell vs Celtic. 5pm; Rangers vs Hamilton. European Championship qualifying Thursday 9:45; Serbia vs Scotland, Northern Ireland vs Slovakia. Selected international friendlies Thursday 9:45; Wales vs USA. 10pm; England vs Republic of Ireland.
The big match just has to be Citeh vs Liverpool. On paper this is 10th hosting first so not an obvious choice for the top game but this early on in this most truncated of seasons the respective league positions mean nothing. What we do have is a stuttering Citeh who have yet to fire on all cylinders against a Liverpool side who are somehow top of the table despite having the worst defensive record in the division. The Reds aren’t having too much trouble finding their opponents nets but can’t defend their own for toffee, and given that Citeh’s forwards are finding their way back to full fitness there should be goals in this game. The other game to keep an eye on is also a Merseyside-Manchester clash where Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton will be hoping to stop their recent run of poor results while Ole Gunnar Solksjaer will just be hoping that he can keep his job. Whether he will or not may well rest on his team selection. It’s pretty clear that for whatever reason Paul Pogba isn’t at the races this season and yet Solksjaer keeps playing him. For United to win he should put his faith in Bruno Fernandes and new acquisition Donny van der Beek in midfield, while dropping Luke Shaw wouldn’t be a bad idea. Up front United have got the tools but they need a decent supply to prosper, and a decent tactical plan wouldn’t hurt either.
Finally it’s here; a bit late but still very welcome. Next Thursday Augusta National will be hosting a very different US Masters to that with which we are accustomed. Normally the Masters is played in April when the old orchard treats the watching TV viewer to a wondrous display of nature’s finest colours while also allowing the avid golf fan to marvel at the very few players who can tame the beast while being sympathetic towards those who fall by the wayside. The damage is usually done on the slickest greens known to man and the run of holes known as “Amen Corner”, particularly on Sunday when the heat dial is turned up to the max. That’s in April but what can we expect from a US Masters in November? The greens should be roughly on a par with the spring but players with an early tee time should expect slower greens as a result of early morning dew. The fairways meanwhile probably won’t be as hard, meaning players will have to club up on their second shots and even the longest may find themselves taking three to reach the green on some par fives. So in theory the bombers such as Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Bryson Dechambeau, and Jon Rahm will see some of their advantage negated while the shorter players will see their chances enhanced. So with this in mind who do I think is worth watching? All the aforementioned plus Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, and can you leave Tiger Woods out of the conversation? Also worth considering: Hideki Matsuyama, Sergio Garcia, Collin Morikawa, and I quite like the looks of Patrick Cantlay and Louis Oosthuizen.
Last week’s question: I was in a benevolent mood last week so I kept things easy when I asked who, when it came to footie in the USA, did Edson Arantes do Nascimento play for? And the answer is that Pele played for the New York Cosmos in their original incarnation in the North American Soccer League. This week: one player has won the Champions League four times while playing for three different clubs. Who is he and which teams did he win the CL with?
Now that their incarceration is over, I and no doubt many local hostelries would like to welcome John and Helen Copping back to Lapta after many long months in Blighty. They’re a very nice couple even though John is a follower of the south London Nomads. Still, as the saying goes, nobody’s perfect.