Winners and Losers from the weekend: Lewis Hamilton shines as Chelsea & Leicester collapse
Our round-up of the highs and lows from another weekend of sporting action
Featuring diverging fates for two of this year’s promoted Premier League teams, the Englishman who has found his form and the technology we wish we didn’t have to discuss constantly.
Here are this week’s winners and losers…
The Mercedes driver scored his first win of the season in the Styrian GP, moving within just six wins of Michael Schumacher’s record, and in truth, he made it look easy.
With the fastest car on the grid and a perfect qualifying session, Hamilton was essentially untouchable, with a flawless drive that moved him to within six points of Valtteri Bottas, who leads the Drivers Standings.
Ferrari ruled themselves out the race in the first lap as Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc’s collision forced both to retire, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was outpaced by Hamilton’s team-mate Bottas, who finished second for a Mercedes one-two.
Early signs are that Mercedes are set to dominate once more and Hamilton will have his eye on his seventh championship – to equal another Schumacher record. He’s 2/9 to do just that.
The Premier League’s bottom five (except Norwich)
Four of the five sides battling against relegation scored big wins this weekend, with West Ham’s Michail Antonio putting four past Norwich, Watford beating Newcastle, Aston Villa extending Crystal Palace’s losing streak to five games and Bournemouth shocking Leicester with a late comeback.
Just four points separate 16th-placed West Ham from Aston Villa in 19th, and any of those four could now conceivably stay up.
Friday’s clash between West Ham and Watford will be huge then. With one or both teams sure to drop points, Bournemouth and Villa must capitalise. The bad news for Bournemouth is that they have Manchester City next, while Aston Villa will look for an advantage when they face inconsistent Everton on Thursday.
Our traders have Bournemouth as 1/8 favourites to go down, with Villa at 1/7, Watford at 7/2 and West Ham at 13/2.
It had to started to look as though the league’s lockdown had halted Sheffield United’s momentum and they were doomed to drift into mid-table mediocrity as the season drew to its conclusion, especially with some tough-looking fixtures yet to be played.
But wins against Chelsea, Tottenham and Wolves have reignited their European hopes as they look to finish the season in style. They play Leicester next, who may be reeling after a heavy defeat at the weekend. We go 9/2 that the Blades seal a top-six spot.
After scoring a hat-trick in Man City’s dominant 5-0 win over Brighton, Sterling is having his best-ever goalscoring season for the club with 27 in all competitions, including six goals in his last six Premier League games.
Sterling was badly out of form until the league was put on hiatus, failing to register a goal or an assist for City in 2020. With the Champions League set to play out in August, Sterling will now be going into that competition in good form, newly secure in the knowledge that City can compete in Europe again next season.
Pep Guardiola’s side are joint 7/2 favourites to go all the way next month.
Without even playing, Man Utd had a fantastic weekend as both Chelsea and Leicester lost, opening the door for United to claim third place in the table as they face Southampton tonight.
Their destiny is in their own hands now and with a 17-game unbeaten run in all competitions, they may have finally found the form and balance within their squad to capitalise. They’re odds-on at 1/9 to finish in the top four.
Daniel Farke’s side were ultimately unable to fulfil their early season promise after a thin squad suffered from injuries and a serious lack of depth was exposed. Relegation was confirmed this weekend as 16th-placed West Ham looked a class above them in a 4-0 win.
They may have stormed the Championship last season, but the gulf between the two leagues is too big to bridge with a net spend of just a few million and Norwich looked doomed by Christmas, despite that feelgood win against Man City way back in September.
As ever with a relegated team, they now face the prospect of having their best players poached, with the likes of Todd Cantwell and Emilliano Buendia likely on the radar of Premier League sides. The positive is that they’re likely to be in a healthy position financially thanks to their refusal to spend and could rebuild for another tilt at the Championship next season.
Leicester’s form has been worrying for all of 2020 so far and while Jamie Vardy has rediscovered his goalscoring touch, Leicester have only managed one win in six since the league restarted. That kind of form was never going to be enough to sustain a top-four spot.
By tomorrow, they could be out of the top four and with games against Sheffield United, Tottenham and Manchester United to close out the season, it may be too tough a task to get back there.
Having looked so secure not that long ago, they’re now back at 15/8 for a top-four place.
While Kepa Arrizabalaga seems to be the scapegoat of choice for Chelsea’s struggles at the back this term, the manager must take responsibility too. They’ve now conceded 33 goals in away games, which is their joint-highest total ever, along with 12 goals conceded from set-pieces – the third worst tally in the league.
Whether it’s a personnel issue, or tactical, the buck will ultimately stop with Lampard. If it’s the former, he needs to find the right defensive recruits. If it’s the latter, he needs to look at his own failings and those of his coaching staff.
The Blues are 3/10 to hold on to one of the Champions League spots.
Jermaine Blackwood starred as the West Indies overcame England with a four-wicket win in the Test series opener at the Ageas Bowl and England were simply not up to scratch, missing the leadership of Joe Root and with questions over Stuart Broad’s omission from the team.
England were the heavy favourites going into the first Test and the truth is that it was individual errors that paved the way for the West Indies success.
Jos Buttler’s leg-side drop, Zak Crawley’s misjudged attempt at a run-out and Ben Stokes’ embarrassing fielding failure at first slip all suggest that rustiness and an unhealthy dose of complacency were to blame.
Despite defeat, the hosts are still 5/6 favourites to win the series.
Debates over VAR again reared their head this weekend, starting with three high profile mistakes on Thursday night, including Manchester United’s fortuitous penalty. The issues didn’t stop there though, as Steve Bruce decried both of Watford’s penalties as ‘soft’ as the Hornets dispatched Newcastle in an important 2-1 win.
It’s now getting to the point where it’s more surprising when VAR makes a correct decision, (as with ruling out an Aston Villa penalty in their 2-0 win over Crystal Palace).
The VAR sideshow is seen by most as bringing unwelcome delays and disputes to the game, which could perhaps be swallowed more easily if the system was infallible. But with the Premier League admitting all three of Thursday’s VAR calls were incorrect, it’s almost certainly causing more issues than it solves, with the nit-picking adherence to the offside rule causing further upset.
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All odds and markets correct as of date of publication