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Monday, December 6, 2021

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The best of AB de Villiers, Carlsen’s chess genius and Chelsea v Man Utd

1) Chelsea and Manchester United meet on Sunday at Stamford Bridge having had very different seasons so far. There are plenty of previous classics between the two sides to delve into, so let’s start back in 1965 with a Reds side featuring Law, Best, Charlton et al hammering Chelsea 4-0 on Match of the Day. Another TV-featured meeting of the two, in 1973, saw Chelsea win through a Peter Osgood goal at the Bridge. In the Premier League era we’ve had Chelsea thrashing Sir Alex Ferguson’s recent treble-winners in October 1999, José Mourinho’s Blues securing the title in 2006 and a 4-0 win over Mourinho’s United in 2016. On a more heartening note for those in red, here’s an eight-goal FA Cup victory in 1998, United’s comeback in a 3-3 thriller in 2012, and their last win in this fixture, in 2020 just before lockdown.

2) AB de Villiers announced his retirement from all forms of cricket last week. The South African has been one of the most destructive batters of the modern era, so let’s relive his record 31-ball ODI hundred against West Indies in 2015, and his incredible 162 against them at that year’s World Cup. And here he is nonchalantly hammering a 19-ball domestic Twenty20 half-century. He was no mug in the Test arena either – feast on his 278 against Pakistan 11 years ago, or just enjoy this overall career showreel.

3) The World Chess Championship gets under way this week, pitting the defending champion, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, against Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi. It’s the first edition of the showpiece since before the pandemic when, in 2018, Carlsen saw off Fabiano Caruana. Here’s Carlsen beating this year’s opponent in 33 moves at a rapid game. This documentary about the chess legend’s childhood shines some light on his upbringing, and this is why he’s known as the Mozart of chess. His opponent is formidable too though – take a look at his five best moves.

4) Teófimo López defends his lightweight world titles at Madison Square Garden on Saturday against George Kambosos Jr. He claimed the title just over a year ago with this impressive win over Vasyl Lomachenko, while here’s his victory over Richard Commey to take the IBF world lightweight title two years ago. López’s top five knockouts can be seen here.

5) Time for some more under-the-radar goals of the week. A 94th-minute winner is always to be savoured, and one as memorable as this, from Morecambe’s Cole Stockton, away from home at local rivals Fleetwood, doubly so. Just look at those away fans! And has this University of Central Lancashire goal been bettered in student football?

6) England’s women are back in action on Saturday, hoping to extend their 100% record in World Cup qualifying when they take on Austria. England have won all of their previous four meetings; their first, in 2010, featured Ellen White’s debut goal for her country, which she talks about here. England also won this 2017 friendly comfortably and another meeting in Austria a year later.

Our favourites from below the line last week1) This week the 49ers had this magnificent butt-interception wiped by a penalty, but last year the Jets’ Marcus Maye got a clean one. Of course, as Giants fans will tell you, there’s nothing wrong with using your head in the NFL, and Julian Edelman proves that using other people to catch the ball is perfectly viable.

2) A sleeper smash of the autumn sporting calendar has been Guadalajara’s hosting of the WTA Finals. Anett Kontaveit met two-time major winner Garbiñe Muguruza in the final.

3) Getting out of trouble at the Open.

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