Which football teams doctored their playing surface to hinder opponents? | The Knowledge

Plus: top-scoring defenders, non-league double delight and strange middle names. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU“Pep Guardiola says he didn’t leave the Etihad grass long against Liverpool. But which teams or managers have used this tactic to help their own side or hinder an opponent?” asks George Jones.Let’s start with the Poundland Machiavelli, former Cambridge and Lincoln innovator John Beck. Everyone in football knows about the infamous Beck and the stunts he used to pull at Cambridge. He brought in statisticians to lecture his players about how few passes were needed to score. He had the grass grown several inches long in the corners to hold up the ball when his players knocked it over the top. During the week they would rough up the pitch so anybody who tried to play football against them was at a disadvantage. “We just used to boot it upfield, so it didn’t really matter to us,” Steve Claridge recalls in his autobiography. Continue reading...



Maria Sharapova rebuffs questions on meldonium and booing after Australian Open exit – video

Maria Sharapova declared Ashleigh Barty could win the Australian Open after having her own title ambitions crushed by the big home hopeful.But a surly Sharapova was in no mood to answer questions about her controversial seven-minute toilet break between the second and third sets of her 4-6 6-1 6-4 fourth-round loss to Barty.The five-time grand slam champion was jeered by the Rod Laver Arena crowd after leaving Barty waiting, but Sharapova refused to answer whether or not the booing rattled her.The Russian also took exception to a question about her no longer being able to take meldonium, a drug she used for a decade before being suspended for 15 months after continuing to use the substance once it was banned by authorities.Sharapova's defeat, as well as the shock exit on Sunday of second seed and fellow former champion Angelique Kerber, has blown Barty's bottom half of the draw wide open.If the Australian can topple two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in Tuesday's quarter-finals, then she will face either Kerber's surprise conqueror Danielle Collins, unseeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or world No5 Sloane Stephens for a place in the title decider. Continue reading...



The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian's sport coverage

With the best of our sports journalism from the past seven days and a heads-up on the weekend’s action, you won’t miss a thingLet our team of editors be your guide to the best of the Guardian’s award-winning sport coverage from the past week. We’ll email you the stand-out features and interviews, insightful analysis and highlights from the archive, plus films, podcasts, galleries and more – all arriving in your inbox at 12pm every Friday. And we’ll tee you up for the weekend and let you know our live coverage plans so you won’t miss a thing. Continue reading...



Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend's action

Unai Emery gets better of Maurizio Sarri, Mohamed Salah takes shine off his milestone and Riyad Mahrez victim of City’s powerWhile these have been a troubled few weeks for Arsenal, with Sven Mislintat’s impending exit set to leave a big hole in their recruitment department, their victory over Chelsea was a reminder there have been plenty of positives during Unai Emery’s first season. The Spaniard has had to muddle along with an imbalanced squad but has shown he can make important tactical interventions on several occasions. He certainly got the better of Maurizio Sarri, disrupting the Chelsea manager’s attempts to build from the back by using an energetic high press, and his switch to a midfield diamond demonstrated Arsenal have become more flexible since parting company with Arsène Wenger. Emery’s side played with snap and bite from the start, with the tone set by Lucas Torreira’s waspish performance, and the impressive Aaron Ramsey. Jacob Steinberg Continue reading...



Watch: Angry Zverev smashes racquet after defeat

Alexander Zverev destroyed a racquet in a spectacular meltdown in the second set during his fourth-round match against Canada's Milos Raonic.



Australia beat Uzbekistan on penalties to reach Asian Cup last eight

Socceroos prevail 4-2 in shootout after 0-0 drawMat Ryan saves twice to book quarter-final spotAustralia stumbled into the Asian Cup quarter-finals after a gritty, but unconvincing penalty shootout victory over Uzbekistan in Al-Ain.Mat Ryan was the hero with a pair of wonderful penalty shootout saves, first down the middle and then to his right. Mathew Leckie then held his nerve to bury his penalty and send the Socceroos through to the last eight. Continue reading...



David Squires on ... the Socceroos' progress at the Asian Cup

Our cartoonist reflects on Australia’s late win over Syria – and the tournament’s outrageously large accreditation lanyardsTake a look through David’s archive of cartoons Continue reading...



Rams beat Saints in overtime to make Super Bowl after 'missed' call

Greg Zuerlein’s 57-yard field goal clinches game for LASaints felt they should have got call late in regulationLos Angeles Rams 26-23 New Orleans Saints (OT)Greg Zuerlein kicked a 57-yard field goal in overtime and the Los Angeles Rams, helped by a huge missed call by the officials, advanced to the Super Bowl with a 26-23 victory over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC championship game on Sunday. Related: Tom Brady brilliant in the clutch as Patriots beat Chiefs to set up Rams Super Bowl Continue reading...



Seething Sarri, Liverpool win again and a slide-tackling fan – Football Weekly

Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Dominic Fifield and Ed Aarons discuss Chelsea, Liverpool’s win over Palace, Claude Puel’s future at Leicester, Spurs’ dramatic win and the Charlton fan who slide-tackled his own playerJoin the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.We start by discussing Saturday’s London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri questioning his team’s motivation following their 2-0 defeat. We then move on to Liverpool’s wild win over Crystal Palace, before turning our attentions to the potentially differing futures of Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Claude Puel. Continue reading...



'It’s time to say goodbye': Lindsey Vonn hints at immediate retirement

Injuries have taken toll on 34-year-old American skierVonn had been planning on retiring at the end of the yearLindsey Vonn may have competed in her last ski race. After failing to finish a World Cup super-G on Sunday as she battles pain in both of her knees, Vonn said immediate retirement “is a possibility.”The 34-year-old quickly clarified her comments by adding: “But I’m emotional right now. I have to really think clearly about that. It’s not a decision I make lightly or quickly.” She was more decisive when interviewed by Swiss TV, saying “now it’s time to listen to my body and it’s time to say goodbye.” Continue reading...



Millwall close to agreement with council over deal to stay at The Den

• Club now working on its own plans to transform the stadium• There were fears Millwall would be forced out of BermondseyMillwall Football Club is close to reaching an agreement with its local authority Lewisham council that would see the club stay in its south London home, the Guardian can reveal, with the club now working on its own plans to transform the stadium and the land around it.There had previously been fears that Millwall would be forced out of Bermondsey by Lewisham’s attempt to compulsory purchase land around The Den. After a lengthy battle the council finally abandoned those plans under huge public pressure, although the threat remained that the process could be reignited to force the development through. Continue reading...