The Premiership and Championship

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Marc Pozzo

I am an avid Liverpool junky, but everyone has a second team that they kind of adopt and support and mine is Norwich City, who are on the brink of a guaranteed return to the English Premier League despite dropping points in a 2-2 draw with Stoke on Monday.

Third-placed Leeds United failed to take ad­vantage of Championship leaders Norwich’s slip, losing 2-0 away to Brentford in the late kick-off. (My good friend Cecil Gombera, who eats, sleeps and breathes Leeds Utd ,will not be a happy man). Only the top two at the end of the season are guar­anteed elevation to English football’s lucrative top flight. The third promotion place goes to the win­ners of a series of play-off matches between the teams finishing third to sixth.

Monday’s results left Norwich six points clear of Leeds with only a maximum of six available from the final two games of the regular campaign. Nor­wich, who need just one more point to be sure of promotion, are also 10 goals better off on goal dif­ference.

Leeds fell three points behind second-placed Sheffield United, who won earlier in the day. Leeds could yet overhaul their Yorkshire rivals, but they could also be eliminated before they welcome As­ton Villa to Elland Road next Sunday. Norwich and Sheffield United, who also have a better goal difference than Marcelo Bielsa’s men both in action on Saturday. At Griffin Park, a major decision went against Leeds in the 17th minute when, with the match still scoreless, the referee denied them what seemed a clear penalty after Brentford defender Ju­lian Jeanvier up-ended Patrick Bamford inside the box.

West London side Brentford rubbed salt into Leeds’ wounds with a goal a minute before half-time from French striker Neal Maupay, who was played in by Sergi Canos. Canos doubled Brent­ford’s lead just after the hour when he lifted the ball over goalkeeper Kiko Casilla after a quick break.

Earlier, Sheffield Unite , who have lost just one of their last 16 league games, enjoyed a comfort­able 3-0 win away to Hull. Aston Villa cemented their place in the play-offs with a club record 10th successive league victory, Jonathan Kodjia’s goal se­curing a 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Mill­wall. Meanwhile Derby manager Frank Lampard can entertain hopes of contesting the play-offs in his first season in charge after Harry Wilson scored twice in stoppage time to secure a 2-0 win over QPR that put the Rams sixth on goal difference. So while it hots up in the Premiership at the top and for those crucial champions league spots, the Championship has its own excitement looming and I am loving them both.

This last long extended weekend, I decided to spend some time…well, most of the time, on the golf course and work on my erratic game. I had 3 rounds of golf ,during this time and have decided to enter my Club Championships in a few weeks at Borrowdale Brooke.

This will be the first time, I have ever done such a bold thing, when it comes to golf. I am excited but nervous, at the same time as medal golf is all about the ball, in the hole ,no matter how many shots you have scored. I shall keep you all posted on my endeavours in a few weeks. Let the practice continue.

The IPL in India is my favourite domestic crick­et event in the world . All these other countries try and emulate what India has done and really they don’t come close . This IPL has once again not been a letdown. To watch some of the world’s best and at the same time watch the future of Indian cricket is exciting. While there have been some remarkable efforts again this year, the most recent one is the innings of Rishabh Pant for the Delhi Capitals. He scored 78 off 36 deliveries to take his team over the line and beat the Rajasthan Royals by 6 wickets with 4 balls remaining.

The win means Capitals moved to the top of the IPL 2019 points table, the first time the franchise from Delhi has attained that position in the second half of an IPL season since 2012. Regarding Pant; well, he played an innings with a point to prove af­ter he was left out of the Indian World Cup squad. I personally think it’s a big mistake to leave him at home. I am sure the Indian selectors have their rea­sons but, for me they leave this talented player at home at their peril . We are getting close to the play offs, and it’s another interesting scenario looming with the table looking pretty shaky for some . There are also a number of players who are departing early from IPL 2019 to go into camp in preparation for the upcoming World Cup, which makes it all still very interesting and the young guns will be left to continue the good work done by these departing players.

Johnny Bairstow played his last game for the Sunrisers on Tuesday night while leading run scorer David Warner who has been in sublime form with the bat, Will also soon depart to be re integrated into the Australian squad for the World Cup . I look forward to the final weeks of the IPL.