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WEEKEND PREVIEW: The BIG 7

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The Australian Open Returns

The Australian Open is back this weekend. We already pencilled an in-depth preview of the opening Grand Slam of the year. However, some facts may interest you.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic – the two most decorated players at this event – are both aiming for a ride to the seventh heaven. Both men are tied on six titles each, and may well need a single game in the final to decide who the ultimate best on the hard surface is.

For the women, there have been eight different grand slam winners since the start of 2017. This means, each of the past eight grand slams has produced eight different winners.

In that time, only Serena Williams managed to play in consecutive finals, perhaps a sign that she is returning to her utmost best. I’m staying glued for the best tennis.

NPFL Resumes after a 7-month hiatus…

The league was supposed to be on break due to the involvement of the men’s senior national team at the World Cup in Russia – this discussion deserves its own article as the league should never have been halted in the first place – as it turned out, a huge leadership crisis unfolded and it led to the league being discontinued altogether and the league leaders unanimously proclaimed league winners.

Then the hullabaloo of the NNL, and then the intervention of the NFF which ensured that league football can resume in the country. That said, the league will resume on Sunday. Hopefully, it will not be disrupted by another crisis.

Ole Gunnar Solskjear finally gets a real test

It’s been three weeks and five games and Solskjear’s Manchester United have taken opponents apart with relative ease and abundance of flair.

Pogba, Rashford, Martial, Lingard, Matic…players who looked out of place a month ago now shoulder the burden of the team and thriving at it.

In the reverse fixture, Spurs ran out 3-0 winners at Old Trafford but had Man United converted half the chances they created in the opening 35 minutes, perhaps the three goals Spurs scored could have been mere consolations.

One can only wonder how such an emphatic result could have spurred this team on, but here is an opportunity to exert revenge and an event better opponent for Solskjear to finalize his audition. 

Tricky London derby for Arsenal

With Spurs and Manchester United battling for three points at Wembley, an opportunity may have been presented to Arsenal.

Arsenal will not leapfrog Spurs with a win over West Ham, but should Mauricio Pochettino’s side fail to pick all three points, Arsenal will effectively cut their seven-point lead.

And there is a good chance of taking maximum points against a rival that has managed only a win in the past four league games.

 Clippers face the Nuggets in back-to-back clash for playoffs spot

The battle for playoff spot in the Western conference is getting increasingly difficult by the day.

The Nuggets are surprisingly leading the conference, which say a whole lot about the invincibility of Golden State Warriors – passing through their toughest moments in recent history.

The Los Angeles Clippers currently occupy the eight spot on the conference log, but may well be farther behind after this trip to conference leaders, Denver Nuggets.

It equally presents Golden State with a chance to retake the conference lead.

Lifeless Real Madrid needs a statement win soon…

Yet another disappointing display and lack of character quickly made up for by a 3-0 first leg defeat of Leganes in the Copa del Rey but it does not hide the fact that Real Madrid are struggling in every department and Santiago Solari’s player management is questionable.

Had Solari begun the season as manager, he would have been sacked by now and perhaps replaced with Julen Lopetegui. 

At least, under the former Spain manager, Real Madrid had an identity, now only the desire of an 18-year old Vinicius Junior spurs Madrid on.

Fortunately, Real Madrid can look to an inconsistent Real Betis as the perfect team to revive their season. But so should Betis treat Real Madrid if they must keep their European dream alive. 

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