After a weekend of ups and downs across a wide variety of sports, James Clancy takes us through this week’s edition of the PA Sporting Week: Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?
Liverpool FC: Liverpool produced one of the most stunning opening 20 minutes seen at Anfield – and arguably one of the best ever – to blow away Premier League leaders Arsenal and give their own title hopes a shot in the arm.
Brendan Rodgers’s rampant Reds fired four goals before the visitors knew what had hit them, and they were incapable of finding a response.
Liverpool took the lead inside the opening minute through Martin Skrtel who bundled home a superb delivery from Steven Gerrard. The same combination netted Pool’s second five minutes later. It was 3-0 when Suarez, who deserved a goal for a brilliant volley which smacked off the post, could claim an assist for Raheem Sterling’s first of two.
Three became four when Sturridge confidently swept home inside the opening 19 minutes. The home side could and probably should have had more before Sterling netting his second following Szczęsny’s save seven minutes into the second half. Arsenal’s only riposte was a penalty from Mikel Arteta 20 minutes from time. It was scant consolation.
Joe Schmidt: Ireland rugby fans were singing in the rain and are now one step away from a Triple Crown after demolishing championship favourites Wales.
Schmidt completely out-tacticed his opposite number Warren Gatland on an afternoon when everything went right for the home side.
It was the most accomplished Ireland performance in some years and rarely has every replacement been rewarded with a standing ovation as the amount of Irish errors could be counted on one hand.
They will now be fancied to win in Twickenham against an eminently beatable English side in a fortnights’ time – with a Triple Crown in the bag, their sights will then surely be only the third Grand Slam in their history.
Michael van Gerwen: thrashed six-time winner Phil Taylor 7-0 on the opening night of the Premier League darts in Liverpool. It was the first time The Power had ever been whitewashed.
World champion Van Gerwen dominated from the off as he clinched the first leg on a double 18 before racing into a 3-0 lead at the Echo Arena.
Taylor rallied and hit three 140s in the fourth leg but failed with two darts at double 12, with his Dutch opponent capitalising to increase his advantage.
Van Gerwen clinched a hat-trick of breaks to leave Taylor with a mountain to climb, then made light work of the final two legs to seal the 7-0 thumping.
Bagheria FC: Italian football has been hit by another possible scandal, this time involving a team that scored eight own goals in the last 10 minutes of a regional cup match on their way to a 14-3 defeat.
The Italian federation is set to launch an investigation into the Coppa Sicilia match between Borgata Terrenove and Bagheria, the final game in a three-team group which also featured Partinicaudace.
All three sides play in Prima Categoria, the eighth tier of the league. Bagheria, needing a point to qualify, were 4-3 behind with 10 minutes to play in Wednesday’s game when Borgata hit two goals in quick succession.
Borgata players then watched in bewilderment as their opponents scored one own goal after the other, shared between three players, Italian media said. The result meant Terrenove qualified on goal difference ahead of Partinicaudace.
Kevin Pietersen: The England and Wales Cricket Board says a need for England players to be able to “trust each other” was a reason for Kevin Pietersen’s international career being brought to a premature and very public end.
They said on Tuesday that the 33-year-old was “no longer part of their plans.”
On Sunday, the ECB stressed the need for captain Alastair Cook to “have the full support of all players”.
The ECB added that Cook, former coach Andy Flower and Matt Prior “retain the total confidence” of the Ashes party.
Mike Philips: had a tough day at the office on Saturday as he was on the receiving end of a thumping defeat to Ireland and got a yellow card in the closing stages following an ugly confrontation with Rob Kearney.
The Welsh scrum-half’s troubles were only just beginning, it seems, as he unwisely opted to tangle with a member of One Direction on Twitter. To make matters worse, Phillips has called out Ireland’s own Niall Horan.
The Mullingar native tweeted that Phillips was looking like “a right arrogant idiot” during a scuffle near the end of the match, after Paddy Jackson went over for Ireland’s third try. The Racing Métro scrum-half logged on this afternoon and challenged Horan to repeat those sentiments to him in person.
Irish fullback Rob Kearney then pitched in as a white knight to Horan saying “I’ve got your back”. Fearing he had bitten off more than he could chew, Phillips congratulated Kearney on the win and sent back a picture of the pair together on last summer’s Lions Tour.
Pundit Arena, James Clancy.