Nineteen races down, one to go. The penultimate round of the 2017 Formula One season in Brazil threw up a number of surprises even wth both Championship decided. Felipe Massa had his final curtain bow in front of his home fans, the action on track was still electric while off it, Toro Rosso and Renault had a war of words.
The Premier League returned after the final international break of 2017 this weekend. Arsenal defeated local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby, Chelsea hit West Brom for 4 at the Hawthorns while Manchester City continued their storming start after winning 2-0 away to Leicester City. Liverpool also had a convincing win (3-0 over Southampton) while the battle of the strugglers: Crystal Palace and Everton ended in a 2-2 draw. David Moyes also returned to the Premier League but nothing changed really as he tasted defeat to Watford in his first game as West Ham manager.
Another team that eventually had a convincing win (at least on paper) was Manchester United as Rafa Benitez took his Newcastle United side to Old Trafford in the Saturday evening kick-off. With both club captain Jamaal Lascelles and Christian Atsu unavailable due to injuries they picked up against Bournemouth, there were starts for Ciaran Clark in central defence alongside Florian Lejeune while Jacob Murphy got his first league start since Swansea on the right wing of midfield with Matt Ritchie moving to the left wing. Benitez retained the 4-4-2 formation he started with against Bournemouth with Joselu and Gayle starting up front. There were places on the bench for Rolando Aarons and Chancel Mbemba as a result of the injuries.
The last set of league games before the November International break is always a sombre occasion in British football as fans and players across the country mark Remembrance Sunday. A minutes silence was held at all games across the country. In a thrilling weekend of football on the pitch, there was the first round proper of the FA Cup. In the Premier League, Burnley continued surprising teams away from home; this time Southampton tasted defeat. Jose Mourinho’s poor record away against the Premier League top 6 continued as Alvaro Morata secured a 1-0 win for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Similarly, Arsene Wenger lost to Manchester City again and criticised poor refereeing as part of Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat. Everton showed great resilience to come from two goals down to win a league game, defeating Watford 3-2 and Mohamed Salah inspired Liverpool to a 4-1 win at West Ham in a game which saw the end of Slaven Bilic’s spell in charge.
At St James’ Park, Newcastle United hosted AFC Bournemouth in a Saturday 3 o’clock kick off. Rafa Benitez brought the changes as altered his sides starting formation for the first time this season. It was 4-4-2 for the home side as Dwight Gayle started alongside Joselu up front as Ayoze Perez dropped to the bench. The change also saw Aleksandar Mitrovic elevated to the substitutes bench. Mohamed Diame did not retain his starting spot as Isaac Hayden returned alongside Jonjo Shelvey in central midfield. Matt Ritchie and Christian Atsu remained on the wings while the back four was unchanged (DeAndre Yedlin, Jamaal Lascelles, Florian Lejeune and Javier Manquillo) and Rob Elliott remained in goal.
As the title of this post suggests, there will be practice part to talk about Interlagos driver and it is not the newly crowned four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. It is, in fact, the Brazilian driver Felipe Massa who announced his second retirement from Formula One a week before what will be his final home Grand Prix.
Felipe Massa’s second retirement
The big story coming into the Brazilian Grand Prix is regarding home favourite Felipe Massa. After the emotional scenes, after he crashed out of last years race, Massa will get a second home farewell race after announcing his second retirement from Formula One. Unlike the years first, there will be no u-turns with Williams understood to be considering reserve driver Paul Di Resta and Robert Kubica to partner Lance Stroll in the other car for 2018. Massa himself has reiterated that fact, ‘Yeah! Actually, this is my second retirement race in Brazil, but this time it’s the last one for sure in Formula One’.
Halloween weekend saw few nightmare performances in truth in the Premier League with the exception of Everton. Having sacked Ronald Koeman with only two wins this season, they lost 2-0 at the King Power Stadium to Leicester City who had just appointed Claude Puel as manager on a three-year deal. The nightmare continued in the Championship for Sunderland though who lost 2-1 at home to Bristol City before a 3-3 draw with bottom side Bolton Wanderers saw the end of Simon Grayson.
Back to the Premier League though. Manchester United edged out Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 thanks to, Arsenal survived a scare to beat Swansea City 2-1 at the Emirates in Arsene Wenger’s 800th league game in charge of the Gunners. Liverpool exercised their Wembley demons by defeating Huddersfield Town 3-0 at Anfield despite Mohamed Salah missing a penalty while Manchester City similarly avoided a scare as they beat West Brom 3-2 at the Hawthorns.