Lorenzo dominates at Le Mans

Jorge Lorenzo moved top of the championship after a dominant 10 second victory at Le Mans. Valentino Rossi recovered from a poor qualifying session to finish second, whilst Maverick Vinales fuelled the rumours about his possible move to Yamaha with his first MotoGP podium.

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Image: Crash.net

Lorenzo had qualified on pole and quickly disappeared, with no rider able to challenge his lead even in the early laps. Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone and Marc Marquez trailed to world champion, with Iannone showing the greater pace. But Iannone lost the front shortly after passing his team mate, leaving his contract for next season looking even less likely. Marquez was able to rejoin the race, managing to pick up three points for his 13th place.

Valentino Rossi managed to catch Dovi and Marquez, passing them both. He was then given some breathing room, as they both crashed almost in synchronisation with 13 laps to go. By then, Lorenzo was well clear of his team mate, so both Yamahas were able to coast to a one-two.

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Marquez (left) and Dovizioso (right) go down simultaniously. Image: Crash.net

Vinales capitalised mostly from the Dovizioso and Marquez crashes, capping of an impressive ride with a podium, 5 seconds clear of Dani Pedrosa. Pol Espargaro finished ahead of his brother in 5th, whilst Danilo Petrucci returned from injury with a 7th place.

Eugene Laverty was the only British finisher, as Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith crashed out and Scott Redding retired early on.

In Moto2, Alex Rins dominated as Sam Lowes finished 6th, whilst in Moto3, Brad Binder made it back-to-back victories after his impressive showing at Jerez.

 

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Vardy right to be sent off, but those penalties were shockers

Leicester’s 2-2 draw with West Ham was certainly packed with controversy, mostly surrounding the performance of referee Jon Moss. Moss gave Jamie Vardy a second yellow card for diving, whilst also awarding both teams soft penalties.

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Jamie Vardy is shown a red card after diving. Image: Mirror Sport

Jamie Vardy’s sending off has proved controversial, but the replays suggest that the referee made the right call. After getting the wrong side of West Ham’s Angelo Ogbonna, Vardy looked to move his legs to initiate the contact.

Whether Vardy should have been in that position has also been debated, with replays showing that his first yellow card should not have been given. The striker slid in on Cheikhou Kouyate but did not make contact, with the West Ham midfielder tripping over Vardy after the tackle had been made.

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Replays show that Vardy initiated the contact with Angelo Ogbonna. Image: Mirror Sport

The referee then preceded to give two of the softest penalties that you will see this season. With 6 minutes remaining, West Ham were awarded a penalty for an adjudged foul on Winston Reid from a corner. Despite the referee warning the Leicester defenders before the corner, if you are going to give penalties for holding from corners, you have to be consistent with it. Not only are these decisions not given by the majority of referees, they have not been given this season. That’s not to mention the fact that there were a further two instances in this match alone where a penalty was not given for even more blatant obstruction in the box. Furthermore, there was minimal contact on Reid, who threw himself to the floor.

Leicester’s stoppage time penalty also should not have been given. Andy Carroll was adjudged to have brought down Jeffrey Schlupp as he burst in to the box, but, as with the West Ham penalty, there was very little contact. This came just minutes after the referee missed an appeal for a Leicester penalty for a blatant foul on Huth, and with the crowd on his back, it looks like he was trying to even it out.

What’s your opinion on these incidents? Did the referee get them wrong? Have your say in the comments.

Marquez makes it four in a row in Austin

Marc Marquez took his fourth consecutive Texan Grand Prix with a dominant display at the Circuit of the Americas. The Spaniard led the race from start to finish, with Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Iannone completing the podium.

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Marc Marquez’s dominace was shown by his 6 second margin of victory. Image: BT Sport

Valentino Rossi crashed out on lap three after he had slipped back from his front row start and was battling with Aleix Espargaro. Andrea Dovizioso will be wondering who he has upset, as for the second race in a row he was taken out. This time, Dani Pedrosa was unable to stop his Honda at turn one, skipping his bike in to the side of the Ducati rider. Dovi had been in third at the time, and this incident left the final podium place open for his team mate, Andrea Iannone.

Maverick Vinales overcame a tough battle with his Suzuki team mate to take fourth, whilst Scott Redding saw off fellow Brits Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith, who both crashed out within seconds of each other on lap eight. Michele Pirro, riding in place of the injured Danilo Petrucci, finished eighth, with Hector Barbera and Stefan Bradl rounding off the top ten.

In Moto2, Alex Rins dominated the race, whilst Sam Lowes’ second place takes him top of the championship. The Moto3 race saw Romano Fenati come out on top.

Lorenzo eases to home victory

Jorge Lorenzo dominated his home Grand Prix in Catalunya, even beating Dani Pedrosa to the first corner. After qualifying 3rd, Lorenzo led from start to finish, with relatively little pressure put on him. Pedrosa though, was more worried by team mate Marc Marquez as the race went on, as the rookie looked to have the faster pace, cumulating in an attempted lunge down the inside of Pedrosa on the penultimate lap which almost saw Marquez lose control. Valentino Rossi rode a lonely race in 4th, after Cal Crutchlow, who was bidding for a 3rd successive podium, crashed on lap 6. Stefan Bradl finished 5th, with Bradley Smith pipping Andrea Dovizioso to 6th, his highest finish so far in his rookie season. Aleix Espargaro finished top CRT in a career best 8th, with Colin Edwards recording an impressive 9th. After crashing early on, Michele Pirro, standing in for Ben Spies, got back on to finish 10th.

Crutchlow was one of many riders not to finish, with no fewer than 8 riders failing to finish. Alvaro Bautista, who almost took out Rossi in his crash, and Michael Laverty crashed out early on, with Hector Barbera, Nicky Hayden, Andrea Iannone and Randy De Puniet also crashing, with Karel Abraham retiring.

Lorenzo’s win moves him just 7 points behind Pedrosa in the championship, with Crutchlow holding on to 4th place despite his crash.

Pol Espargaro won the Moto2 race, with championship leader Scott Redding finishing 4th, and Luis Salom won the Moto3 race.

Bautista the pantomime villian as Lorenzo storms Mugello

Alvaro Bautista will have to lie low whenever he returns to Italy, after knocking off Italian legend Valentino Rossi on just the 3rd corner of the race. Rossi, who qualified 7th, didn’t have the best of starts, leading to him being caught up in the thick of the action. Jorge Lorenzo led from the first corner, where he overtook Dani Pedrosa, who out-qualified him with a Pole-position lap record on the final lap of Q2. Lorenzo went of to gap the two Repsol Hondas to get a 5 second lead. Marc Marquez, who qualified 6th after crashing in every session apart from qualifying, fought his way up to 3rd behind his team mate. With about 10 laps to go, Pedrosa’s lap time fell, allowing Lorenzo to escape and holding up Marquez. Marquez passed Pedrosa with 5 laps to go through turn 5, however he crashed 2 laps later after the bike folded beneath him. This mistake allowed Brit Cal Crutchlow an unlikely podium, his 2nd consecutive rostrum. Crutchlow was having a lonely race, after passing his former team mate Dovizioso early on, and having a 4 second buffer both in front and behind him. But when Pedrosa started to have problems, Cal began hunting down the hondas, taking about half a second-a-lap out of the Repsols.

Further down, Stefan Bradl got his highest finish of the season in 4th, beating the highest placed Italian Andrea Dovizioso, who had started on the front row, and Nicky Hayden. Another Ducati, test rider Michele Pirro came 7th, with Aleix Espargaro taking up his usual place of top CRT in 8th.Bradley Smith finished off a painful weekend in 9th, while fellow Brit Michael Laverty finished 17th.

Lorenzo’s victory sees him overtake Marquez in the championship, now just 12 points behind Dani Pedrosa, Crutchlow’s 3rd sees him move closer to Marquez, just 6 points behind, whilst Dovi overtook Valentino Rossi in 5th place.

In Moto2, Brit Scott Redding took his Championship lead to 43 points with a comfortable second win in a row as he pushes for a MotoGP ride next year. Luis Salom won in the Moto3 race.

Wenger’s tarring the Premier League with his own mess

Arsene Wenger claims that this season’s Champions League is a “wake-up call” to the Premier League. It’s the first time in 17 years that no English clubs have reached the Quarter finals of the competition. Post-match, Wenger said that “the rest of European football has caught us”. But based on recent history, Wenger has no right to speak on behalf of the league as a whole. Less than 12 months ago, Chelsea lifted the trophy. In fact, this season will only be the second time since 2004 that an English team hasn’t reached the final, the other being 2009-10, with the 2008 final being an all English affair.

Arsenal have failed to reach the quarter finals on the past 4 occasions, and look doubtful to even qualify for next year’s competition. So if anyone is being caught up by the rest of Europe, it is Arsenal. Both Chelsea and Manchester City fell at the first hurdle, but it was hardly surprising with Chelsea in turmoil and City being headed by a man who has failed in Europe at every club he’s managed. Then Manchester United lost their heads in the next round after a controversial refereeing decision. That left Arsenal to fall just a week later after an embarrassing first leg defeat at home, and an unconvincing victory over a Bayern team who assumed that they were already through. Captain Philipp Lahm even went as far as saying “I hope we face Borussia Dortmund in the final” on the Monday before their game with Arsenal, showing the confidence of the Bayern team that their place in the Quarter finals was booked.

Wenger claiming that the Premier League is weakened compared to the rest of Europe is completely nonsensical. Is he seriously saying that the Turkish League is stronger that the Premier League as Galatasary are in the draw. It is just a one-off season and I would be surprised if there isn’t at least one English side that reaches the semi-finals next season.

Roo’s going nowhere

Ever since United’s game with Real Madrid, the papers have been full of stories that Wayne Rooney is on his way out of Old Trafford, with PSG, Man City and Chelsea just some of his likely destinations. However, these reports are based on the fact that he was benched on Tuesday. Why he was left as a substitute is unknown, with some pundits suggesting that Sir Alex doesn’t trust him in the big games, in spite of the fact that Rooney has played in 14 out of United’s 16 games against the other members of the top 5 since the beginning of the 2011/12 season. This doesn’t show a lack of trust from his manager.

The reason he was left on the bench against Madrid was because of the system United played. Ferguson set up to be resilient and then to counter attack at pace. Pace is a trait that Rooney does not possess, so if he were to play, he would have to replace the talismanic Robin Van Persie. Although his recent form is questionable, Van Persie has almost single handedly dragged United through on many occasions this season, such as at St Mary’s with his sublime hat-trick. Welbeck and Nani possess a great amount of pace, and it really showed. United were in control and apart from a few opportunities, Madrid didn’t look like scoring. Welbeck had a couple of chances to score after breaking through, however he lacked the composure to finish. But that will come with time. Rooney was simply left out to avoid shoehorning him to a position that wouldn’t see him produce his best.