Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

United get rude awakening

The plain sailing Manchester United would have expected in the group stage of their Champions League campaign has turned into a rough ride after Tuesday’s 3-3 home draw with Swiss side Basel, who were unlucky not to have come away from Old Trafford with the three points.

Two draws in their last two games, away to Stoke City in the Premier League and the late escape against Basel, will have rooted out any complacency that might have crept into Alex Ferguson’s men after their flying start to the season which included an 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal.

United’s last two performances also showed that despite their three big summer signings in David De Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young, the team still lack depth when key players are injured.

With Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic, Javier Hernandez and the increasingly influential Chris Smalling all sidelined, United’s makeshift 11 with Ecuador winger Antonio Valencia filling in at right back looked bereft of ideas up front against Stoke and utterly unconvincing even when they were 2-0 up against Basel, when only a late Young header spared them from paying in full for a comedy of errors at the back.

The Lineman: Week Three NFL picks

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Had a Baltimore Ravens type Sunday last week, going 2-4 after a brilliant (if I do say so) 5-1 start to the season. But like the Ravens, I look for a big bounce back in Week 3.

Record: 7-5. Last week 2-4; Pick of the Week: 2-0

PICK OF THE WEEK
Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) at San Diego Chargers (1-1)
(Line: Chargers minus-14.5)

The Lineman: Week Two NFL picks

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The Lineman got the season off to a Tom Brady like start going 5-1 but still room to improve so here’s the Six Pack for Week 2.

Record: 5-1. Last week 0-0; Pick of the Week: 1-0

PICK OF THE WEEK
Houston Texans (1-0) at Miami Dolphins (0-1) (Line Texans minus-2.5)

The U.S. Open gets physical

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The U.S. Open final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was one of the most physical battles ever seen on a tennis court.

The sheer speed of their groundstrokes and length of the rallies were incredible. Djokovic dominated Nadal in the first two sets, to win them 6-2 6-4. He was on top of the baseline forcing Nadal to play well behind the baseline and not allowing him to play inside the court and dictate. Nadal though is tenacious and was down a break three times in the third set and broke Djokovic while serving for the match to end up winning the third set in a tiebreaker. Unfortunately, Nadal had nothing left in the fourth set.

“You just can’t speak to umpires like that” – Rusedski on Serena

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Week two of the U.S. Open had many stories. Would the weather destroy the momentum of the event? How would the courts hold up? Will the U.S. Open finally make plans to build a roof? Who would be the men’s and woman’s U.S. Open champions?

On the woman’s side Serena Williams made the finals easily and was the big favorite to win the title against Sam Stosur. Stosur had the longest match in US Open history and played the longest tie breaker in U.S. open history as well, to make the finals. Nobody except Sam Stosur thought she would win. If she won, she would become the first Australian woman to win a major since 1980. She played the match of her life and won 6-2 6-3.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Champions League kicks off but is there only one winner?

Can any team steal Barcelona's Champions League crown this term?

The easy answer is no.

They were so strong last season that even the final against a good Manchester United side was a stroll.

This term Pep Guardiola's men have strengthened, if that was possible, with the additions of Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez so it is hard to look past them and their silky skills.

The Lineman is back! Week One NFL picks

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The Lineman is back for a new season with his weekly Pick Six tips.
Have fun and good luck.

PICK OF THE WEEK
Carolina Panthers (0-0) at Arizona Cardinals (0-0) (Line Cardinals minus-6.5)

Rusedski sticks to his picks

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The first week of the US Open is always interesting. It’s easy to get a sense of what is going to happen, who is playing well and who is struggling. The weather conditions have been warm but not as humid and hot as last year, no major issues for the players – with the exception of Rafael Nadal and his cramps post match during his press conference.

On the men’s side Novak Djokovic has been sensational and has appeared to have had no issues with his shoulder that was worrying him in Cincinnati. Djokovic still looks like the favorite and is hitting the ball better than anyone in the tournament. Roger Federer has looked good as well, but had his first test against Mario Cilic. The big question mark around Federer is how will he play the big points if he plays Djokovic in the semi-finals but before getting there he has a tough section.

Strauss’s side still not England’s best

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By John Mehaffey

According to International Cricket Council statistician David Kendix’s calculations, three England sides before Andrew Strauss’s present team would have topped the test world rankings too if the current format had existed.

In reverse chronological order, they are Mike Brearley’s side of 1979-80, Ray Illingworth’s 1970-3 team and the 1955-9 squad led first by Len Hutton then Peter May.

Rusedski makes his picks for the US Open

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The men’s side of this year’s US Open is going to be very interesting.

Will Novak Djokovic’s shoulder hold up and can he win his third major of the year? Will Roger Federer win another major with one of the toughest sections of the draw? Can Rafael Nadal get his form back to defend the title? Will Andy Murray win his first major? And finally, who are the dark horses?

Djokovic’s first two rounds look comfortable, then his route gets interesting with a possible match up against Nikolay Davydenko in the third, Richard Gasquet in the fourth and Tomas Berdych in the quarters before he most likely meets Federer in the semi-finals, if Federer gets there! Berdych could be the danger man in the section if his shoulder recovers from Cincinnati.

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