22-01-2019 Which football teams doctored their playing surface to hinder opponents? | The Knowledge

Plus: top-scoring defenders, non-league double delight and strange middle names. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU“Pep Guardiola says he didn’t leave the Etihad grass long against Liverpool. But which teams or managers have used this tactic to help their own side or hinder an opponent?” asks George Jones.Let’s start with the Poundland Machiavelli, former Cambridge and Lincoln innovator John Beck. Everyone in football knows about the infamous Beck and the stunts he used to pull at Cambridge. He brought in statisticians to lecture his players about how few passes were needed to score. He had the grass grown several inches long in the corners to hold up the ball when his players knocked it over the top. During the week they would rough up the pitch so anybody who tried to play football against them was at a disadvantage. “We just used to boot it upfield, so it didn’t really matter to us,” Steve Claridge recalls in his autobiography. Continue reading...

22-01-2019 Cheltenham contenders hoping to tune up for the main event in March | Talking Horses

There is plenty of intrigue on Saturday at Cheltenham while the most valuable card on Tuesday is at NewcastleEntries have just closed for the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday after the race was re-opened on Monday having attracted fewer than 10 names. The extra 24 hours has not tempted any more runners into the mix, however, and a maximum field of eight will go to post this weekend, a field which could include Frodon, the winner of the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham in December, and Elegant Escape, who took the Welsh National at Chepstow a couple of weeks later.Valtor, who made a winning debut over British fences for Nicky Henderson at Ascot last month, is another interesting entry, having arrived in this country from France at a much later stage of his career than most cross-Channel purchases. The 10-year-old had been seen as more of a Grand National type than a Gold Cup horse, but a win on Saturday could yet see him enter the reckoning. Minella Rocco, unraced since his fall in last year’s Irish Gold Cup, is also among the possible runners. Continue reading...

22-01-2019 Maria Sharapova rebuffs questions on meldonium and booing after Australian Open exit – video

Maria Sharapova declared Ashleigh Barty could win the Australian Open after having her own title ambitions crushed by the big home hopeful.But a surly Sharapova was in no mood to answer questions about her controversial seven-minute toilet break between the second and third sets of her 4-6 6-1 6-4 fourth-round loss to Barty.The five-time grand slam champion was jeered by the Rod Laver Arena crowd after leaving Barty waiting, but Sharapova refused to answer whether or not the booing rattled her.The Russian also took exception to a question about her no longer being able to take meldonium, a drug she used for a decade before being suspended for 15 months after continuing to use the substance once it was banned by authorities.Sharapova's defeat, as well as the shock exit on Sunday of second seed and fellow former champion Angelique Kerber, has blown Barty's bottom half of the draw wide open.If the Australian can topple two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in Tuesday's quarter-finals, then she will face either Kerber's surprise conqueror Danielle Collins, unseeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or world No5 Sloane Stephens for a place in the title decider. Continue reading...

22-01-2019 Serena Williams knocks out Simona Halep in epic Australian Open clash - highlights

Serena Williams outlines why she is the favourite to win the Australian Open with a 6-1 4-6 6-4 win over world number one Simona Halep in a high-quality last-16 match.

22-01-2019 From Blissett to Bendtner: eight of football’s most unlikely transfers

In light of the transfer of Kevin-Prince Boateng from Sassuolo to Barcelona, here are eight unlikely transfers with mixed results that raised eyebrows in the football worldKevin Prince-Boateng’s move to Barcelona from Sassuolo has certainly raised a few eyebrows among those who remember his spells in England with Tottenham and Portsmouth. But as the Ghana international joins forces with Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez et al at Camp Nou, here are some other unlikely transfers from down the years. Continue reading...

22-01-2019 Watch: Angry Zverev smashes racquet after defeat

Alexander Zverev destroyed a racquet in a spectacular meltdown in the second set during his fourth-round match against Canada's Milos Raonic.

22-01-2019 Arsenal’s Héctor Bellerín to miss rest of season with ruptured cruciate ligament

• Defender injured during win over Chelsea on Saturday • Player waiting to learn if there is further damageHéctor Bellerín’s season is over after he was diagnosed with a ruptured cruciate knee ligament and the Arsenal right-back faces a battle to be fit for the beginning of the next campaign.Bellerín collapsed in agony during his team’s 2-0 win against Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Saturday and he now has the headline result in terms of the damage. But there could be yet more bad news for him as he waits to learn whether he has damaged the meniscus and other parts of the joint. Continue reading...

22-01-2019 Wasps scrum-half Dan Robson to stake England claim with overdue first cap

• Robson is one of only two scrum-halves in Six Nations squad• ‘Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I can cement my place’For a sense of just how long overdue Dan Robson’s first England cap is, Dai Young’s explanation for taking him off in the latter stages of Wasps’ defeat by Leinster on Sunday is revealing. “I wouldn’t live with myself if he got a bump in the last 12 minutes.”Granted Wasps’ European campaign was long since over at the point Robson made way but Young is in the majority in thinking his scrum-half’s international debut ought to have come some time ago. It would probably have arrived last autumn, only for an ankle injury to rule him out of England’s entire campaign, but as one of only two scrum-halves in Eddie Jones’s Six Nations squad it will surely come against Ireland. Continue reading...

22-01-2019 The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian's sport coverage

With the best of our sports journalism from the past seven days and a heads-up on the weekend’s action, you won’t miss a thingLet our team of editors be your guide to the best of the Guardian’s award-winning sport coverage from the past week. We’ll email you the stand-out features and interviews, insightful analysis and highlights from the archive, plus films, podcasts, galleries and more – all arriving in your inbox at 12pm every Friday. And we’ll tee you up for the weekend and let you know our live coverage plans so you won’t miss a thing. Continue reading...

22-01-2019 'Rashford is playing the best football in his career,' says Solskjær after United win – video

Marcus Rashford marked his 150th appearance for Manchester United with a wonderful goal as his side won 2-1 at home to Brighton. Speaking after the match Ole Gunnar Solskjær said he believes the forward is currently the best striker in the Premier League with Harry Kane out injured Continue reading...

22-01-2019 'Rugby's like a chessboard with 120kg pieces' - how virtual reality could transform training

Painstaking research, virtual reality and holding the tackle bags in training... an insight into how a top rugby analyst operates.

22-01-2019 Ronaldo accepts €18.8m deal over tax evasion

The football superstar has signed a deal with Spanish prosecutors that will spare him jail time.

22-01-2019 Jan Siewert: New Huddersfield Town boss does not want David Wagner comparison

New Huddersfield Town boss Jan Siewert says he does not want to be compared with predecessor David Wagner.

22-01-2019 Marlie Packer: 'I thought I was out of the England squad'

World Cup winner Marlie Packer talks openly about her conviction for drink-driving, fears for her England future and new role as a mentor to team-mates.