Gabba dabba Root: upday weekend sport preview
Chelsea look to dance around the Anfield trap and we find out who will be the prey at the ‘Gabbatoir’
To paraphrase the eternal words of Jamaican musician Bobby Cliff, “we don’t like cricket, we love it” — the men’s Ashes are here and England and Australia are very much engaged in their own private squabble.
The talk in the lead up to the clash was of the Australian seam attack ending careers — it came from 5"9 Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon. Mmmmmkayyyyy.
It’s a very busy sporting Saturday; there’s another serving of international rugby union; England play Tonga for a Rugby League World Cup Final place and Liverpool take on champions Chelsea at Anfield.
Friday 24 November
The Ashes - First Test, 23–27 November
Cricket’s most famous clash resumes once again, this time in the not-remotely-dramatically-nicknamed “Gabbatoir” stadium in Sydney. The first two days have seen a balanced clash between the two sides on an unusually slow Brisbane pitch that could bring Moeen Ali into play in the fourth innings — if England can force Australia into batting again.
Captain Steve Smith remains firm though with a half century in pursuit of England’s 302.
It’s all set up with Australia to bat last on a deteriorating pitch against Moeen Ali. Do not take your eyes off this one people.
Saturday 25 November
Rugby League World Cup — England v Tonga 05:00 (BBC 2)
It may have met muted reaction on these shores but England have powered their way to their second consecutive World Cup semi-final. Tonga’s array of NRL stars stand in their way lead by the frightening Jason Taumalolo. The small island nation may be sweeping to their first semi-final on the world stage but they’ve been spectacular enough to garner their own phrase:
Having fallen so agonisingly short four years ago at Wembley, England will want to make sure no such repeat happens. They’re 80 minutes from a first final in 22 years against the old enemies Australia who dispatched of Fiji 56–4 in the other semi on Friday morning.
The England women also made their way to the semi-final of the inaugural Women’s World Cup.
Rugby Union Autumn Internationals
England v Samoa — 15:00 (Sky Sports Action)
Scotland v Australia — 14:40 (BBC 1)
Wales v New Zealand — 17:15 (BBC 1)
It’s difficult days for Wales. Having lost their autumn opener to Australia, minnows Georgia had them under siege at the Millennium stadium late on only for Wales to escape with a 13–6 victory. Good time for Wales to play the All Blacks then.
Incidentally, New Zealand themselves survived a thriller at Murrayfield against Scotland. Coach Gregor Townsend will be hoping the Hoggfather is similarly inspired this week when Scotland take on a chastened Australia.
The mood at Twickenham was darker than the clouds last Saturday for an Australia team that had two tries disallowed and had a captain in the sin bin. The scoreline of 30–6 flattered England but points are points and the bench strength embodied by Danny Care and Henry Slade told. Both will get a chance from the start as Eddie Jones sends out an experimental England side against Samoa.
Life comes at you fast…
Liverpool v Chelsea 15:30 (Sky Sports Main Event)
What a difference 45 minutes makes. Coasting 3–0 up and about to qualify top of their Champions League group, Liverpool folded — their resolve draining quicker than a bottle of olive oil at Jamie Oliver’s — eventually succumbing to a draw.
Jurgen Klopp was rightly incandescent as his defence proved to be an issue once again. Chelsea are not exactly the team you want pitching up to play you right now if you’re a fan of the Reds.
Chelsea’s seven goals in five days to dispatch West Brom and FC Qarabeg will serve as a hazard warning (nudge nudge, wink wink) for Klopp’s men and their leaky defence. However, in Mohamed Salah — starting against the team that cast him adrift — they have the league’s top scorer (Morata is second).
Will “heavy metal” football win out against Conte’s concerto?
Sunday 26 November
Lewis’ lucrative victory lap continues…
Etihad Abu Dhabi Grand Prix — 13:00 (Sky Sports F1)
The final race of the 2017 Formula 1 season takes place in the gulf state of Abu Dhabi. With the title already decided, Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valteri Bottas is racing for second place on the Championship podium against Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel.
Premier League — Southampton v Everton 13:30 (Sky Sports Main Event)
The inaugural Ronald Koeman derby kicks off the Premier League football proceedings on Sunday with both teams having seen the back of the legendary Dutch defender as a manager in the last three years.
Everton remain without a full-time manager but will still fancy their chances against a Southampton side with one win in seven. They’ll need a response after a humiliating 1–5 loss at home to Italian side Atalanta in the Europa League on Thursday.