After a dominant showing from Paddington in the Eclipse Stales and another absorbing episode of Ashes cricket, I discuss the biggest talking points from the weekend’s sporting action.
1. Strength in youth
Arsenal demonstrated last season that they had a team to rival the very best and were only beaten by one of the great footballing squads. To many, this summer was seen as crucial in terms of Arsenal deepening their resources so that they could mount a sustained title challenge while also flying the flag in the Champions League.
They have done just that with the signings of Kai Havertz and Declan Rice, adding proven Premier League experience, as well as showing the ambition the fanbase has been craving. They have also secured the futures of Bukayo Saka and William Saliba who have signed long term deals.
Arsenal to win the Premier League @ 5/1
2. Aidan out for revenge
Little Big Bear was beaten to the post by Shaquille at Royal Ascot in a pulsating Commonwealth Cup. The two are due shoot it out once more in this Saturday’s July Cup. Aidan O’Brien will be hoping his charge can reverse the form and bounce back into the winner’s enclosure.
The Ballydoyle battalion is in top form this season with Paddington’s classy victory in the Eclipse yielding yet another Group 1 success. If anyone can reverse the form-book it is Aidan O’Brien.
Little Big Bear to win the July Cup @ 9/2
3. Wonderful Wood and Woakes
The much-anticipated return of Mark Wood in an England shirt didn’t disappoint. His first innings spell of bowling was one of the quickest in Ashes history and he caused the entire Australian batting line-up serious problems. He finished the match with figures of 28.4-6-100-7, and arguably bowled England to the win.
Fellow returner Chris Woakes had a remarkable game too. With the ball he took key wickets on a regular basis, including the big wicket of Mitchell Marsh in both innings, but it was with the bat that he carried out his heroics. Joining Harry Brook at the crease with England still needing 80, he delivered a mature display that wouldn’t have looked out of place from a top-order batsman and shouldered the responsibility which those who came in before him were unable to carry.
England to win the Ashes @ 7/1
4. Imperious Djokovic
In a week that has seen plenty of five setters and a couple of upsets, one player who has looked as imperious as ever is seven-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic.
His form coming into Wimbledon was exemplary and he has carried on in similar vein with straight sets wins over his first three round opponents which included three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. His fourth-round match versus Hubert Hurkacz had to be paused on Sunday evening due to the 11pm curfew installed at Wimbledon, but Djokovic was still in the ascendancy having got the better of the 17th seed in two tiebreaks. He closed that match out in four sets with ease despite not playing anywhere near his best tennis.
Can anyone stop Djokovic? Carlos Alcaraz is through but has faced challenges in his early rounds with Nicolas Jarry pushing him all the way as well as enduring another tough match against Matteo Berrettini. It looks set up for an intriguing second week at SW19.
Djokovic to win Gentlemen’s singles at Wimbledon @4/9
5. Taking off in papaya
This weekend saw the largest crowd ever to watch a British Grand Prix with 480,000 spectators passing through the gates at Silverstone. As many will have predicted, Max Verstappen strolled to a simple victory, but it was the man who came home in second that not many would’ve predicted.
Lando Norris had a weekend to remember as he put his McLaren on the front row in qualifying, before overtaking Max Verstappen into the first corner on race-day. The inevitability of Verstappen regaining the lead occurred a few laps in, but Lando held onto what is a much needed and encouraging podium for a McLaren team who have been struggling for consistency to equal his career best race result.
Lando Norris to win a race this season @ 10/1