PUN-ting ahead 14 (19 – 22/APR/13)- “Sunday Best I” Edition

The pursuit of slothfulness has become the mainstay of most people’s’ Sundays.  Every “effort” is made to NOT do as much as possible as they wind down the weekend in the hope that they can ease into what is usually a manic Monday.  BUT, once in a while the principles that govern the expected behaviours of this do-nothing-day are cruelly challenged as sports fanatics try to keep up and wade through a bumper-to-bumper jammed up list of sporting events.  The fixture list becomes more congested than a Champions-League-glory-seeking, Mourinho-inspired-bus-parking 18 yard box!  It’s time to whip out and dust off your sporting SUNDAY BESTS.  It’s no longer just Any Given Sunday, BUT it surely is a giving one…..so let’s PUNt this!

FOOTY / SOCCER

(EPL)

  Tottenham Hotspur -v- Manchester City

Manchester City assistant manager Brian Kidd has insisted the title race is not over and believes his side can still overhaul Manchester United.  No KIDDing he actually did say that!  Oh what difference a week makes.   Within that week Citeh have narrowed Manchester United’s initial 15 point lead to 13 (albeit with a game in hand for Citeh).  When it was at 15 points Bobbito Mancini conceded that the title race was over.  Even after The Citizens won the recent Manchester Derby to pull to within 12 points, their first team coach, David Platt, did not see any way for them to retain the EPL title.  So when Brian starts to sing from a different hymn book it really is cause for concern and worth exploring.  His reason to hope is premised on the possibility that United might just put in another jittery self implosion performance, with 6 games to play, similar to the one that facilitated a Citeh 8-point gap closing act to last season’s final day glory!  So now that the boys from The Etihad find themselves at that, once pivotal, 6-games-to-go mark, nostalgia must be kicking in. The mathematics says it’s possible…… all that needs to happen is that Manchester City win ALL their remaining matches and Manchester United must in turn :-

  • Draw with Aston Villa on Monday night. = Gap will now be 11 points
  • Lose away to Arsenal = Gap will be 8 points, United still fancying their chances.
  • Lose at home to Chelsea = Gap is now 5 points, and Rafa is gleefully waiting to update his CV with the FACT that Sir Alex has failed to beat him in his interim capacity. And once Citeh beat West Brom to catchup on fixtures the Gap will be down to 2 points!  Cue the Jitters!
  • Draw with Swansea at Old Trafford = Gap is now a precarious 3 Points, which will soon be ZERO once Citeh beat Reading!  So going into the last round of matches the teams are Level on Points….. and Manchester City is possibly ahead on Goal Difference seeing as United have failed to add to their goal difference (while Bobbito’s Boys invariably boosted theirs with their win streak) since the KIDD CURSE struck!
  • Win away to West brom = There is still NO points gap…. BUT Manchester City run riot on the final day as they beat  Norwich City with the decisive goals coming from another Old Trafford Old Boy as the last day plaudits fall to Teveeeeeeeeeez!

Now that is a Best case scenario if  ever there was one!  BUT it could ALL come to naught if Citeh fail to bring their “A” Game to The Lane when they take on Tottenham Hotspur in a crucial top-4 clash!

PUN-dit POINTERS:-

  • Man City have won their last 4 matches against Tottenham in all competitions. (they won 5-1 on their last visit to White Hart Lane).  BUT had won only 3 of 27 encounters prior to this present 4 match undefeated run.
  • Edin Dzeko netted a late winner in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, with the reigning champions coming back from a goal down to win.
  • City are unbeaten in all 10 league matches against London clubs this season (W6, D4) – they are the only side yet to lose to a club from the capital.
  • Tottenham are undefeated in 9 of their last 10 home matches in the Premier League.
  • April is certainly the cruellest month for Tottenham, who have lost a Premier League-high 35 matches in that period.
  • Tottenham have failed to win a game this calendar year in which Bale has not scored in.  So they will naturally be sweating on on The Welsh Wizard’s availability.

HUGE match with looooads at stake.  There is no room for a slip up for either squad (squeaky-bum time anyone?).  Spurs also have a Best case scenario to play for.  One that has them winning this match while Chelsea and The Arsenal fail to keep pace!  BUT that being said, with all that is at stake I am PUN-ting a MULTI-SCORE DRAW!

Perhaps NOT the Best result for either team, BUT it would be one that does not dash either sides ambitions.  For Citeh it could be a whole lot worse.  Should they lose this match they will surrender their crown to Manchester United, if United go on to beat Aston Villa on Monday.  That would then see RvP, living out a SUNDAY BEST scenario as he to The Emirates as a debuting Champion, complete with a begrudging Guard of Honour!

QUICK PUNts :-

  1. Liverpool -v- Chelsea (EPL):- AKA “Gaffer Rafa’s Not-So-Lazy-Sunday Homecoming”.  Mr Benitez has generally found great comfort in playing AWAY from the resident boo-boys of Stamford Bridge, BUT a return to the relative home comforts of The Kop should make this his most anticipated AWAY fixture.  Unfortunately for Rafa though, Liverpool have dominated this fixture in the interim period that he has been out of the EPL.  Liverpool have lost only two of their last 12 league meetings with Chelsea and are unbeaten in the last five encounters (W4, D1).  Liverpool won last season’s corresponding fixture 4-1!  So even though The Reds have been inconsistent this term, Chelsea is the team they reserve their Best performances for.  I am PUN-ting a NARROW WIN FOR LIVERPOOL… BUT even after that result, it’s most likely that the chants dedicated to the interim Mr Benitez will be more than those aimed at the permanent Mr Rodgers.
  2. Juventus -v- AC Milan (SerieA):- Don’t let the 15 point gap fool you, this match will be closer than that gap suggests. Turin’s Old Lady is on a 5 league game win streak…. BUT Milan are also undefeated 14 Serie A matches so the temptation to PUNt another draw seems justifiable….BUT to be fair Juve have been Italy’s Best team so A NARROW VICTORY FOR JUVENTUS is my PUNt
  3. Bahrain Grand Prix (Formula 1):- This is probably as far from a Lazy Sunday Drive as you are going to get.  NOT just because of the high speeds that the drivers will be operating at, BUT because the backdrop of political proTESTS and turmOIL could make for an extra slippery event (desert sands not withstanding).  We were treated to 7 different podium-toppers from the first 7 grands prix of last season and we already have 3 from 3 this season……BUT I do expect that sequence to end this Sunday.  And from this season’s podium-toppers I am PUN-ting that last season’s Best driver ALONSO WILL WIN IN BAHRAIN.  He is still the Best  driver for me, and now has the added benefit of a much better car.

NB* stats as per www.whoscored.com , www.goal.com , www.espnfc.com, www.bbc.co.uk/sport,

PUN-dhari (Best of the local scene)

As mentioned earlier on….”0h what a difference a week makes”.  From the slim pickings that were on offer last weekend, Zimbabwe finds itself going into a Sunday that will have no less than 3 sporting events that will capture regional and possibly even global attention.

  1. Zimbabwe -v- Bangladesh (Test Cricket):- We are not accustomed, as Zimbabweans, to watching our national cricket team last all 5 days of a Test match so whatever the result was going to be from this 1st of two Tests, we would have claimed Zimbabwe’s taking of this test into Sunday, as a victory of sorts.  BUT now that we have set Bangladesh a victory target of 483 we now find ourselves in with the ever so rare opportunity of actually winning a Test!  Which, IF achieved would mean we will also actually NOT lose the series…..and could quite feasibly win a Test series out right!  BUT let’s not get ahead of ourselves, this is after all the same team that seems to specialise in performing AGAINST EXPECTATIONS so PUN-ting this is a true TEST of Patriotism versus Reality.  Plucking defeat from the jaws of victory in the West Indies all those years ago has made us less bullish when victory seems certain. So just because I still don’t “expect” it to happen I will PUNt a VICTORY FOR ZIMBABWE!  And should that happen then we won’t mind if it is achieved on Saturday.  Though a Sunday clincher would be Best!
  2. Zimbabwe Open (Golf):-  A few metres away from the Test cricket (which is being hosted at Harare Sports Club) the 2013 edition of Zimbabwe’s premier golf event is also well under way at the Royal Harare Golf Club.  A few errant swings from either side of the boundary fence that separates these two venues could see some unfamiliar balls disrupting play.  Last weekend’s Masters introduced 14-year-old Tianlang Guan to the global stage, and this weekend, Zim has its own teen sensation in Ryan Cairns to present to the region.  The U.S. based teen starts day 3 as Zimbabwe’s best placed professional in joint 20th.  He is 6 strokes off the -9 (9 under) lead pace that, 2001 Zimbabwe Open Champion, Darren Fichardt has set.  It would be sensational if the young Mr Cairns won it for Zimbabwe, BUT I am PUN-ting that THE TROPHY WILL FIND IT’S WAY ACCROSS THE LIMPOPO RIVER WITH ANOTHER SOUTH AFRICAN CHAMPION.
  3. Dynamos -v- Highlanders (Footy):-  Easily Zimbabwe’s Best club football match-up.  The rivalry that exists between DeMbare & Bosso will have the co-ordinates of Rufaro Stadium (the very same venue that the great Bob Marley performed at during our nations inauguaral Independence Day celebrations on 18 April 1980) being punched into most GPSs.  Defending league champions Dynamos find themselves still searching for their 1st league win of the season after an opening procession of draws.  Highlanders are still smarting from their 1-NIL defeat to DeMbare in the Independence Cup final on Thursday, and they will want to exact swift revenge against their nemesis who denied them league honours last season, on goal difference!  The Independence Cup loss was the 3rd straight one for Bosso , against Dynamos, this season (all being cup related encounters) so Kelvin Kaindu will be hoping that a different competition format might just bring a difference in results.  BUT I do not see them securing victory because I am PUN-ting YET ANOTHER DRAW FOR DeMBARE!

And there it is, almost ALL the Best sporting events for this Sunday.  The London Marathon will also be worth a watch (hopefully the horrors of last week’s Boston Marathon will NOT be repeated).  So whatever you had planned, if it did NOT include some of the highlighted events then hopefully you will catch some of them.  BUT if they prove to be NOT so SUNDAY BEST….. then please pardonthePUN-dit!

Be blessed, and ….Be a Great!

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