Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Bad boy coming of age as Bendtner buries Liverpool

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By Phil O’Connor

A contract running out, in trouble over drunken behaviour and a country qualified for Euro 2012 – whatever one thinks of Sunderland’s on-loan Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner, his life is far from boring.

With the clock ticking down on an Arsenal deal that is highly unlikely to be renewed, Bendtner hit the headlines this weekend as he struck his second goal in two games to all but end Liverpool’s hopes of a shot at next year’s Champions League.

His success, while wearing a face mask,  in the 1-0 win makes something of a pleasant change. Signed by Arsenal at 17, Bendtner has too often wound up in the newspapers for all the wrong reasons.

But things might be changing – after a recent arrest for damaging cars whilst on a night out with team mates, he issued an apology to fans via a Danish newspaper and promised to concentrate “only on football” in future.

Would Mourinho face a predicament at Chelsea?

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If the coaching merry-go-round puts Jose Mourinho back in the Chelsea hotseat after the 49-year old Portuguese left Stamford Bridge in 2007, it will be a testament to the old saying that nothing is impossible in football.

There seemed to be no way back for the self-acclaimed “Special One” after his acrimonious split with Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich, but their contrasting fortunes since have seemingly opened the door to what would be a spectacular return to English football for Mourinho.

Dravid hit the high notes despite playing second fiddle

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By Sudipto Ganguly

Rahul Dravid will go down in the annals of Indian cricket as a champion batsman who had no qualms about playing second fiddle during an illustrious 15-year career built upon the soundest of techniques.

A purist’s delight, Dravid will be fondly remembered as someone whose batting was as perfect as a coaching manual and the numerous rescue acts he performed would secure him a place on the wish-list of any international captain.

Is Van Persie the Premier League’s best ever ‘volleyer’?

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By James Illingworth

Robin Van Persie’s stoppage-time winner at Anfield on Saturday was not the most spectacular goal of the Dutchman’s career but it could go some way to confirm his status as the best volleyer the Premier League has seen.

The Arsenal hit-man notched his 31st goal of the season when he latched onto Alex Song’s lofted through-ball to guide a side-footed volley past Jose Reina at the Liverpool stopper’s near post.

Who next for Chelsea hot seat?

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Arguably the hottest of hot seats in soccer is vacant yet again after Chelsea’s ruthless Russian owner Roman Abramovich removed Andre Villas-Boas on Sunday.

The callow Portuguese lasted just 256 days at Stamford Bridge before “the project”, as he usually referred to the task of revitalising the west London club’s ageing squad, was aborted.

McIlroy top of the world, Woods firing…Florida serves up a classic

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Rory McIlroy became the second youngest number one golfer on Sunday after Tiger Woods when the Northern Irishman survived a final-round special from the 14-times major winner at the Honda Classic in Florida.

Golf is in fine fettle. 22-year-old McIlroy can do no wrong, Woods is showing signs of a resurgence and the pair will meet again at next week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship in nearby Doral for another elite-field event.

Arsenal finally tackling their problems

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By Phil O’Connor

Perhaps stung by criticism from the likes of Patrick Viera and Emmanuel Petit, Arsenal’s stunning 5-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur was built not just on pretty passing but on solid tackling too.

Viera and Petit provided the steel in midfield for Wenger’s first great Arsenal side, and both have recently been critical of their slide towards mid-table mediocrity.

Drugs no help in surfing, says world champ

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World surfing champion Kelly Slater is happy to abide by new doping regulations being implemented in his sport but he doubts whether performance-enhancing drugs would make anyone surf better.

Surfing’s image has always been clouded by images of wild lifestyles, of cashed-up athletes treading a fine line between partying and performing.

from Mark Meadows:

Montpellier need belief not Santa Claus to win Ligue 1

Put a beard on avuncular and rotund Montpellier president Louis Nicollin and he could easily be mistaken for Father Christmas.

Sadly for supporters of the high-flying Ligue 1 club, Nicollin is not a fan of miracles.

World records, cramp and crashes; Olympic velodrome’s got it all

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Excited Britons Victoria Pendleton and Jessica Varnish interrupted their post-race media interviews to roar on four-times Olympic champion Chris Hoy after demolishing the women’s team sprint world record at the World Cup on Friday, one of four world-record breaking rides around the 2012 Olympics velodrome on day two of the test event’s competition.

Having sat down to avoid leg cramps, rather than standing like the other cyclists while reporters hustled them for a quick word, they paused as Hoy whizzed past at the Olympic velodrome amid a cauldron of noise and then promptly joined in.

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