Claude Puel’s time at Leicester continues to get better and better. The Frenchman divided fans during his brief spell in charge of Southampton but the Leicester faithful are beginning to think they’ve got a world class manager on their hands after a strong start. Puel has already guided the Foxes to a series of impressive wins and he’ll be targeting another as Crystal Palace visit the King Power Stadium on Saturday. In stark contrast, the problems continue to mount for Palace boss, Roy Hodgson. The ex-England manager was furious after the Eagles’ draw with Bournemouth. Having seen his team awarded their second penalty of the match, Hodgson and the packed house at Selhurst Park watched on with disbelief as Christian Benteke demanded he take the penalty and not Luka Milivojević, the scorer of the first spot kick. Benteke took one of the weakest penalties of all time to cap off an incident typical of clubs who go on to be relegated.
The New Year is a time for looking forward to the future. Whether it’s committing to getting fit, doubling down on work or spending more time with loved ones, New Year’s resolutions give us a chance to look forwards with optimism. Generally speaking, the PDC World Darts Championship follows suit by crowning its world champion right at the start of the year. However, this year’s tournament is all about saying goodbye as Phil Taylor leaves professional darts.
Antonio Conte cut an incredibly frustrated figure at the London Stadium on Saturday. Chelsea knew that defeat against West Ham in the London derby would all but end their chances of defending the Premier League title and yet Conte watched in disbelief as his players turned in an insipid performance against the Irons. As well as landing a major to blow to Chelsea, West Ham’s 1-0 win over the Blues put the cat amongst the pigeons at the bottom of the table. Thankfully for David Wagner, his Huddersfield players rose to the challenge and secured three points of their own with a 2-0 victory against Brighton to give them a five point gap from the relegation zone. That win snapped a run of four straight defeats for the Terriers so they’ll be feeling a lot more confident about their chances when Chelsea visit the John Smith’s Stadium on Tuesday night.
Aintree Racecourse is known the world over as the host of the Grand National. There is no other race that matches the history or legend of the Grand National but in terms of the elements of the race itself, the Becher Chase comes pretty close. Often used by trainers to assess their horses’ chances in the National, the Becher Chase is run over the same course and uses the same fences. The distance is considerably shorter at 3m2f but make no mistake, this is still a stamina sapping handicap that challenges horses’ jumping technique and their heart.