A lot has happened in football over the Christmas holidays. From a position of relative strength Chelsea drew against Southampton and lost to Tottenham to allow Manchester City back into the title race. After the Tottenham defeat Chelsea and Manchester City could in fact only be separated by alphabetical order. Since then, though, Chelsea has opened a two-point gap.
Just behind them in the table is Southampton, who won at Old Trafford for the first time in 27 years to overtake Louis van Gaal’s side and go third. Manchester United are now in fourth, two points behind Southampton, and one ahead of Arsenal.
The bottom of the table is also very close, with just three points separating twelfth placed Everton and nineteenth placed Queens Park Rangers. The other two teams in the relegation zone are Hull City and Leicester City.
The manager merry-go-round as already started. Neil Warnock and Alan Irvine have been sacked and replaced by Alan Pardew and Tony Pulis respectively. Newcastle are currently looking for a manager. Wilfried Bony has completed a move to Manchester City from Swansea for £28m.
Ched Evans is still searching for a new club to play at after a proposed deal with Oldham Athletic fell through. Oldham had contacted sponsors to inform them that a deal had been agreed, but reversed their decision in light of sponsors backing out and a 40,000 strong petition. Evans, while still maintaining his innocence, would later apologise. The previous day he had released a statement saying that he blamed ‘mob rule’ as the talks were terminated.
In cricket, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni retired from Test Match cricket after the third test against Australia in Melbourne. Dhoni had played 90 tests in his career. His replacement as captain, Virat Kohli, became the first person to score three centuries in his first three innings as captain, when he scored 147 in the fourth test in Sydney. Australian captain Steve Smith scored a century in each test as Australia won the series 2-0 to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
Sacked England batsman Kevin Pietersen caused a stir during a commentary stint in the Big Bash in Australia. Pietersen said “I know that the current [one-day] captain would love to have me in the England team.” He later added: “I want to play for England. I honestly believe I am batting as well as I have ever batted at the moment.”
In tennis, Andy Murray has been seeded sixth for the Australian Open. He beat a top-four player for the first time since the Wimbledon final in 2013 when he thrashed Rafael Nadal in the semi-final of an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi. He would go on to win the tournament, as Novak Djokovic pulled out of the tournament having fallen ill. Djokovic then suffered a shock defeat at the hands of 35-year-old Ivo Karlovic in the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open in Doha.
Roger Federer created history when he secured his 1000th career win on the ATP tour. The milestone victory came for Federer in the final of the Brisbane International. He beat Milos Raonic in a hard fought match that went the distance, with Federer eventually prevailing 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 6-4. Federer is the third person to reach the landmark. Jimmy Connors was the first, while the most recent player (Ivan Lendl) reached the milestone in 1992. Federer demonstrated the immense form he is currently in with a 39-minute victory over Australian hopeful James Duckworth in the quarter-finals. Federer said of the 1000th win: “I’ve played a lot of tennis over the years so to get to 1,000 wins means a lot to me.
“It’s a special moment, no doubt about that. I will never forget this match.”
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and US Open Champion Marin Cilic have pulled out of the Australian Open with injury.
In a light-hearted moment, Serena Williams, having lost the first set to Flavia Penneta 6-0 at the Hopman Cup in Perth, asked the chair umpire if it was against the rules to have a coffee. She would later order an espresso from a ball girl (citing jet lag as the issue), and went on to win the match convincingly.
In rugby, Ben Morgan has been ruled out of the Six Nations with a broken leg. Saracens lock George Kruis was cited for a tip tackle and subsequently banned for three weeks. He will be available for the Six Nations.
And finally, Paula Radcliffe has announced that she will race in the London Marathon in April, but that it will be her last ever race.