Good week/Bad week: Best and worst from the sporting world in the past seven days
Last Updated: 07/04/14 3:45pm
So much can change in a week of sporting action and, sure enough, there have been numerous highs and deflating lows over the past seven days.
In a week where the Premier League title-challengers all won we’ve opted to highlight Manchester United’s emphatic win at Newcastle as a plus for David Moyes’ men while Lewis Hamilton claimed back-to-back wins by finishing first in an epic Bahrain GP.
Arsenal’s quest to secure UEFA Champions League football took yet another turn for the worse following a heavy defeat to rivals Everton while Norwich City’s 1-0 home defeat to West Brom on Saturday cost Chris Hughton his job at Carrow Road.
It has certainly been difficult first season for David Moyes at Manchester United so when they have a big win it must go down as a plus for the former Everton tactician, who is under heavy pressure to deliver.
Saturday was a massive highlight in an otherwise underwhelming season for the Red Devils. Juan Mata was at his magical best as United cruised to a 4-0 success over Newcastle United at St James’ Park.
Mata, who cost £37.1m from Chelsea in January, scored the visitors’ openings goals with further efforts from Javier Hernandez and promising talent Adnan Januzaj wrapping up a fine afternoon’s work in the north east. The victory means United have closed to within seven points for fourth-placed Arsenal.
Lewis Hamilton emerged on top in a riveting race-long duel with team-mate Nico Rosberg in an epic Bahrain GP to claim back-to-back wins as the gloves came off for the first time between the two championship favourites and F1 2014 definitively came alive.
After a build-up to the race dominated by debates and arguments in the paddock by some of F1's most influential figures over the sport's controversial new era of quieter engines and fuel efficiency, the thrilling action served up over the course of the 57 laps of racing around a floodlit Sakhir provided the first contrary evidence to suggest that perhaps not too much is wrong with the sport's 'rules reset' after all.
In a race characterised by wheel-to-wheel duels between team-mates, Hamilton seized the lead from polesitter Rosberg into the first corner and then just about held on for his first consecutive race wins since 2010 despite several periods of concerted pressure from the sister Mercedes.
Winning away from home in the Heineken Cup is difficult at the best of times and Saracens were up against it ahead of their tricky-looking trip to Ulster, a team with an impressive record in this year’s RaboDirect PRO12 table.
The Aviva Premiership side were given a numerical superiority early on when Jared Payne was shown a red card for taking Alex Goode out in the air - an incident which saw the England full-back depart on a stretcher, however, there was still much work to be done.
Ulster showed plenty of character and fight to lead 9-5 at the break, although second-half scores from Mauritz Botha and Chris Ashton, his second of the contest, were enough to cling onto a famous 17-15 triumph at Ravenhill.
Matt Jones enjoyed a double celebration on Sunday. Not only did the Australian rookie produce a remarkable finish to win the Houston Open, but the victory also clinched his place at this week’s Masters in Augusta.
It was a fairytale ending for the world No 75, who sank a monster 45-foot birdie on the 18th hole to force a play-off after Matt Kuchar had bogeyed the last.
The 33-year-old then holed a pitch shot on the first play-off hole to defeat Kuchar, who began the final round six shots clear of eventual winner Jones. It was Jones’ first PGA Tour victory and now means he gets to compete against the world’s best at Augusta.
The Gunners’ season seems to be going off the rails and there are no signs as yet long-serving manager Arsene Wenger can get the proverbial train back to full steam.
Arsenal’s primary objective every season is to secure a top-four finish and then claim as much silverware as possible beyond that point. Sunday’s 3-0 defeat to Everton means the Toffees are now just a point behind the North Londoners in the table with a game in hand.
Since beating Fulham 2-0 at home in mid-January Arsenal have won only three of their last 11 league outings. Next up for Wenger’s charges is a home clash against relegation-threatened West Ham who will be scrapping for their lives at Emirates Stadium.
It was Judgement Night at the Premier League darts last Thursday and victory for Newton over Dave Chisnall in Cardiff would have ensured he avoided relegation for a second time.
Things looked good for Newton six legs in as he retained a 4-2 lead over the St Helens man, however, Chisnall was not about to sucked into the battle himself.
With the tension palpable on the oche, 'Chizzy' hit an important double eight with his last dart to break back and then held his nerve in the next to make it 4-4. Newton failed to finish strongly, losing five of the last six legs to suffer a 7-5 defeat.
The managerial merry-go-round continued on Sunday when Hughton paid the price for Norwich’s disappointing season after being sacked. The Canaries have been strong at home, but a 1-0 defeat to West Brom promoted the club’s board to act.
Norwich are a good five-points clear of the drop zone with five games of the season remaining, however, the club’s run-in is harder than most.
Youth team boss Neil Adams has been entrusted with first-team affairs for now and their next game is a six-pointer against third-from-bottom Fulham. The East Anglian team simply cannot afford to suffer defeat against the Cottagers with games against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal on the horizon.
Any hope a return to County Championship action would bring welcome relief to Following on from England’s embarrassing showing at the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh where they bowed out of the competition with a stunning 44-run defeat to the Netherlands.