Vasyl Lomachenko will aim to burnish his reputation as one of the finest boxers of his generation when he meets fellow Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell at the O2 Arena on Saturday.

The masterful Ukrainian star can add the vacant WBC belt to his WBA and WBO titles at lightweight – the third division he has ruled as a world champion.

Lomachenko's dazzling exploits means he is frequently talked of as a leading pound-for-pound fighter – the endlessly debatable rankings of the best performers in the sport, regardless of their weight division.

Here, while preparing ourselves for what might be lurking in the comments section, we rank our top five boxers in the world today.

5) Naoya Inoue

Record: 18-0 (16 KOs)

'Monster' may campaign at the lower weights but he hits incredibly hard. The different classifications at flyweight were not a problem for Inoue, and the early signs are he will take the bantamweight division by storm, too. The 26-year-old stopped Jamie McDonnell in a round to claim the WBA strap and then marked his first defence by doing the same to Juan Carlos Payano. Emmanuel Rodriguez had the temerity to take Inoue into round two before being decked three times in May. Future hall of famer Nonito Donaire is up next.

4) Oleksandr Usyk

Record: 16-0 (12 KOs)

Another Ukrainian to make waves after huge success as an amateur, Usyk confirmed his status as the best cruiserweight in the world by retaining the IBF, WBA, WBO and WBC belts against Tony Bellew in November. A southpaw who carries power, his step up the heavyweight division has been delayed by a bicep injury but is keenly anticipated.

3) Terence Crawford

Record: 35-0 (26 KOs)

Like Lomachenko, Crawford is a three-weight world champion. The Omaha-born 31-year-old is a switch-hitting expert who goes from orthodox to southpaw with ridiculous ease. His fast hands also catch the eye as well as opponents, and his skillset has been too much for any foe to deal with to date, including latest victim Amir Khan in April. A welterweight unification with compatriot Errol Spence Jr is a fight the world wants to see but, predictably, one television and promotional arrangements might continue to scupper.

2) Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez

Record: 52-1-2 (35 KOs)

Alvarez's gripping bouts with middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin might have ended with disputed decisions but they also left the Mexican icon as boxing's biggest star. A supreme tactician and counter-puncher, Canelo showcased his chilling power to the body when becoming a three-weight champion versus an overmatched Rocky Fielding last December. He then underscored his supremacy at 160lbs by outpointing Danny Jacobs – could Sergey Kovalev be next?

1) Vasyl Lomachenko

Record: 13-1 (10 KOs)

After an illustrious career in the amateurs that finished with 396 wins and a solitary defeat, the 31-year-old has achieved plenty over the course of 14 outings in the paid ranks. Lomachenko has won titles at feather, super-feather and lightweight, recording wins over Jorge Linares, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Gary Russell Jr and Jose Pedraza before blitzing Campbell's countryman Anthony Crolla last time out. The solitary blip came against Orlando Salido in his second fight - and even that was a much-debated split-decision verdict. 

Losses for Arsenal and Tottenham last weekend are set to add extra spice to the always feisty north London derby at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The Gunners were comfortably outdone by a Mohamed Salah-inspired Liverpool in a 3-1 defeat that ended their perfect start to the Premier League season.

Times are even tougher for Tottenham, who slipped up at home to Newcastle United and seem distracted by the transfer speculation surrounding star playmaker Christian Eriksen.

Clarity of purpose can be discovered in matches of this magnitude but a survey of the Opta data sheds light on just how difficult it will be for Spurs to succeed.

 

AWAY GAME NO ESCAPE FOR SPURS

Lucas Moura urged Tottenham to stop dropping "stupid points" at home right before the loss to lowly Newcastle.

Taking a break from the club's shiny new 62,000-seater ground might seem attractive in the wake of last weekend's result but there is scant consolation to be found on the road, even when the journey is only brief.

Spurs are winless in seven Premier League away games, a run not endured since an eight-game streak between December 2011 and April 2012.

Goals from Son Heung-min and Dele Alli did secure an EFL Cup victory at Emirates Stadium last season.

Could it be regarded as something of a wasted win?

Only once before - in 1925 and 1926 - have Tottenham won consecutive matches at Arsenal and it would take a first away league victory for Mauricio Pochettino over Unai Emery at the fifth attempt to break almost 100 years of history.

HEAD TO HEAD: DAVID LUIZ V DAVINSON SANCHEZ

Both sides need to return to form and, individually, so too do David Luiz and Davinson Sanchez.

The former was outfoxed by Salah for each of the Egyptian's two goals at Anfield, while Colombia international Sanchez completely lost Joelinton for Newcastle's winner.

Should he again be selected ahead of Jan Vertonghen, Sanchez will have a big job to do against Arsenal's dangerous, quick forwards and there are clear improvements he must make.

The 23-year-old has won a meagre 55 per cent of his tackles since the start of the last Premier League season, far inferior to the more experienced David Luiz's success rate of 74 per cent.

Opposition players also dribble past the Spurs centre-back with far more regularity - 0.77 times per match - than his fellow South American, who gets beaten an average of 0.24 times every 90 minutes.

David Luiz, winner of 54 per cent of aerial battles, remains some way short of a perfect back-four member and could struggle to deal with Harry Kane if Spurs can sling inviting crosses into the area.

FORM GUIDE

Arsenal headed to Merseyside with a maximum six Premier League points already registered and left with their confidence dented.

Emery's tactical tweaks subdued a slick Liverpool for close to 45 minutes but, once Joel Matip made the breakthrough, the European champions were simply too strong.

Still, after wins against Newcastle and Burnley, it could be worse, as Pochettino can attest.

His team's luck ran out after a fortunate draw at Manchester City as they spluttered to a 1-0 loss at home to Steve Bruce's Magpies, a side that had been reeling from a harrowing defeat on the road to Norwich City. 

Sluggish starts have been an issue: Watford are the only other Premier League team to have conceded the opening goal in all three matches this term.

HISTORY SAYS...

Beware the September specialists!

Sunday heralds the end of August and marks the beginning of a traditionally excellent month for Arsenal.

The Gunners have won more Premier League games (60) and boast a higher win rate (61 per cent) than any other side in September.

Converting penalties is important whichever page the calendar is on and particularly so in the north London derby.

Harry Kane scored one in March, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did not, and now spot-kicks have been the source of five of the past 14 goals in this fixture.

Cristiano Ronaldo made his first competitive appearance for Real Madrid 10 years ago in a 3-2 LaLiga victory against Deportivo La Coruna.

The Portugal forward reached superstar status after being made the world's most expensive player at the time when joining Madrid from Manchester United for a reported €94million.

He went on to become the club's all-time leading scorer and won 15 trophies, including four Champions League crowns and two LaLiga titles, before leaving for Juventus in 2018.

To mark the decade anniversary since it all began for Ronaldo at Madrid, we look back at their team from that day and where they all are 10 years on.

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas

Synonymous with the number one shirt at Real Madrid and widely considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, Casillas brought an end to his 25-year spell at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2015 by joining Porto. The veteran suffered a heart attack during a training session in May and doubts remain over his future in the game, with an administrative role at Porto likely if he retires.

Right-back: Alvaro Arbeloa

Arbeloa returned to Madrid for a second spell at the club the month after Ronaldo joined and he became a regular at the back for several years before joining West Ham in 2016. The World Cup-winning defender retired after one season at West Ham. He has lived a somewhat low-key retirement, but did briefly coach Mambo FC in 2018, a team formed of freestyle footballers from YouTube.

Centre-back: Ezequiel Garay

Garay's Real Madrid career never managed to take off and he was sold to Benfica in 2011 after falling down the pecking order. He moved to Zenit St Petersburg three years later and is now back in the Spanish top flight with Valencia, where he has featured regularly over the past three seasons.

Hay que seguir luchando,no hay otro camino,los resultados positivos seguro que van a llegar,gracias a la afición por el apoyo de siempre #G24 #amuntvalencia pic.twitter.com/Wo7PVLl97z

— Ezequiel Garay (@Garay_24) February 17, 2019

Centre-back: Raul Albiol

Another player signed the year Ronaldo arrived, Albiol was snapped up from LaLiga counterparts Valencia and played 43 matches in all competitions in his debut campaign. He left for Napoli in 2013 after seeing his playing time gradually reduce, spending six seasons there before returning to Spain with Villarreal in July.

Left-back: Marcelo

One of only two players from this side still at Madrid, Marcelo is now into his 14th season at the club and has been a regular in most of those campaigns. Despite strong links with a move to Juve earlier this year, Marcelo remained at the Santiago Bernabeu and has started both league matches this term.

 

https://t.co/ZW98dzRll2

— Marcelotwelve (@MarceloM12) July 28, 2019

Central midfielder: Lassana Diarra

Diarra made a positive start to his Los Blancos career and later featured 17 times in their title-winning season of 2011-12, but the Frenchman moved to Anzhi Makhachkala in 2012 after playing time decreased. He then spent time with Lokomotiv Moscow, Marseille and Al Jazira, before a surprise move to Paris Saint-Germain in January 2018. He retired in February, though he was an unused substitute once for Belgian side Sporting Charleroi in March.

Central midfielder: Xabi Alonso

Alonso was signed from Liverpool and became the linchpin of Madrid's midfield for five years, winning five major honours, including the Champions League in 2014. He then linked up with Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, before bowing out on a high in 2017 after adding five more trophies to his collection. He has since moved into coaching, taking charge of boyhood club Real Sociedad's 'B' team.

Attacking midfielder: Kaka

Kaka arrived at Madrid in June 2009 as a one-time Ballon d'Or winner and was the most expensive player in the world for all of a month, a record that was taken from him by Ronaldo. The Brazilian struggled under Jose Mourinho and returned to AC Milan four years later, with Gareth Bale's arrival pushing him further out of the picture. He was unable to match his previous heights in San Siro and saw out his career in Major League Soccer with Orlando City. Rumours of a return with Silvio Berlusconi-backed Monza failed to materialise.

Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo got off the mark in his first outing for Madrid with a penalty. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner went on to add a further 450 goals, becoming Madrid's all-time leading goal-scorer. If last year's switch to Juve was surprising, his form for the Old Lady was anything but. He was crowned Serie A's Player of the Year in his debut campaign after guiding Juve to an eighth straight Scudetto with his 21 goals in the league.

Forward: Raul

Club icon Raul was into the latter stages of his Madrid career when Ronaldo arrived, spending just one season alongside him. Ronaldo was handed Raul's number seven shirt when the Spaniard left for Schalke 04 in 2010 and many of his goalscoring records have since fallen to arguably the club's greatest ever player. Raul spent a combined five years with Schalke, Al Sadd and New York Cosmos before moving into coaching with Real Madrid's age-grade and reserve sides.

Forward: Karim Benzema

The other member of this team still at the Santiago Bernabeu, Benzema has managed to see off a succession of strikers to remain Los Blancos' go-to man up top. The Frenchman joined the same year as Ronaldo and formed an impressive partnership with his attacking colleague. He is sixth on the club's list of all-time leading scorers with 224 goals, but is still a long way short of Ronaldo's record.

Substitute: Esteban Granero

Granero started his career with Madrid and returned in 2009 following a spell with neighbours Getafe. He never became first-choice and is now at Espanyol, having also played for QPR and Real Sociedad.

Substitute: Gonzalo Higuain

The Argentine striker was prolific for Madrid and Napoli between 2007 and 2016, before controversially swapping Naples for Turin. After unsuccessful loan spells with AC Milan and Chelsea, he is back with the Old Lady under Maurizio Sarri.

Substitute: Guti

Guti spent 15 years with Madrid and is renowned as one of the most talented players to have come through their academy. He left in 2010 and spent the final year of his career with Besiktas and is now part of their coaching staff, having also previously worked behind the scenes with Madrid.

Pressure is reportedly building on Javi Gracia, with Watford the only team in the Premier League left without a point after three matches.

Defeats to Brighton and Hove Albion, Everton and West Ham led the former Malaga boss to admit "the dynamic is not good" as he called for improvement.

The achievements of last season should buy him time to turn results around but scratch beneath the surface and ingrained shortcomings are evident.

An assessment of the Opta data portrays a misfiring team as being on the slide for longer than might have been assumed.

 

Early promise in Premier League

Gracia took charge of Watford mere hours after Marco Silva's acrimonious exit in January 2018 and, amid the maelstrom, proved a calming presence. 

The mild-mannered Spaniard steadied a side which had won one Premier League match in 11 by delivering victories over Chelsea, Everton and West Brom in the space of five games.

Watford ended the season eight points clear of danger and renewed optimism grew into European ambition with a four-match winning streak at the outset of the following campaign.

November brought an inevitable downturn in results but, after earning the club's highest Premier League points total, Gracia appeared untouchable.

He additionally secured an unexpected FA Cup final appearance and a points per game average of 1.18 ranks him level with Quique Sanchez Flores and above former bosses Silva (1.08) and Walter Mazzarri (1.05).

Why, then, does his position appear perilous?

Points becoming precious

A deeper look at the data suggests last season's run to the FA Cup final might have masked the degree to which Watford's results have nosedived in the Premier League.

Vicarage Road was rocking at the end of October as a 3-0 defeat of Huddersfield Town further cemented seventh spot.

Since then, the Hornets have claimed 31 points from 31 matches.

That leaves them in 15th on the form table beginning from November 2018, one place and two points above Cardiff City, despite playing three more top-flight matches than the Championship outfit.

Gracia's win percentage in the same period is a lowly 25.8 per cent.

Mazzarri posted a superior 29 per cent win ratio in the final 31 matches he oversaw before being moved on at the end of the 2016-17 season.

Watford have exhibited a ruthless streak since returning to the Premier League and Gracia will have to address one debilitating deficiency to avoid become the latest casualty.

Missed chances hurting Hornets

Conceding seven goals in three games this term is naturally a point of concern for Gracia, a defensive midfielder during his playing days.

Plugging holes at the back will not solve all of the problems, however.

Since the start of last season, Watford have converted a league-low 29.9 per cent of the 89 'big chances' they have created.

Will Hughes, responsible for a point-blank miss in the 3-1 weekend loss to West Ham, is the worst culprit.

The midfielder has passed up each of his four big chances over the past 12 months, while defenders Craig Cathcart, Christian Kabasele and Adrian Mariappa have each squandered three.

Roberto Pereyra and Andre Gray, with paltry big chance conversion rates of 20 per cent and 28.6 per cent respectively, share large levels of responsibility.

Under pressure to produce a fix, Gracia may have to start making some tough selection decisions. 

Clubs in Spain, Germany, Italy and France have less than seven days left to buy reinforcements in the transfer window, though there are plenty of players still available for free.

The process of signing free agents is less restrictive than buying players from other clubs, as they can be brought in after the deadline passes.

Many teams might therefore be able to find what they are looking for without forking out hefty transfer fees, which have been known to increase closer to the window closing due to the difficulty of finding replacements.

Several out-of-contract stars secured moves earlier in the year, with Adrien Rabiot, Aaron Ramsey and Ander Herrera proving there is still real value to be found in the market.

We've identified six players without a club who could still do a job at a decent level.

 

Hatem Ben Arfa

If a club is willing to put up with some potential baggage and the occasional off-field issue, Ben Arfa could prove an inspired signing. He proved with Rennes last season that he is still immensely capable, as he scored seven goals and set up another two in 26 Ligue 1 appearances, while he also caught the eye with his dazzling dribbling in the Europa League. At 32, he is surely still worth a punt for a year.

Fernando Llorente

Even in his more youthful days Llorente was not the most mobile, but that did not prevent him playing for Athletic Bilbao, Juventus, Sevilla and Tottenham. It is difficult to read too much into his Spurs spell, given he only made seven Premier League starts in two years, but his ability to hold the play up and cause problems with his physicality seem to be intact. Recently linked with Manchester United, he might be more suited to a return to Spain, where the pace is slightly less intense.

Jose Mauri

After breaking through at Parma as a teenager, Mauri looked a very smart acquisition by AC Milan when the former were relegated in 2015 and forced to start again in Serie D due to bankruptcy. In four years, he made just 11 Serie A appearances for Milan, but the former Italy Under-21 international is not without talent. A creative midfielder who is still only 23, there is plenty of time for Mauri – like former club Parma – to enjoy his own rebirth.

Martin Caceres

An immensely experienced centre-back, Caceres, 32, has played for Barcelona, Villarreal, Sevilla, Juventus and Lazio in a distinguished career. He spent the second half of last season at the Old Lady for a second spell, making nine Serie A appearances. Injuries have troubled him over the years, but he proved in Turin he is still capable of playing in a top division.

Claudio Marchisio

Although he is still recovering from knee surgery, a recent social post captioned "tick tock #imready" hinted Marchisio was itching to return to action. Most recently with Zenit in Russia, the Juventus icon has ruled out playing for another Italian side, which scuppered a potential deal with Brescia. Although not the competitor he once was, Marchisio can be counted on for experience, leadership and fine technique.

Lazar Markovic

Markovic is widely regarded as one of Liverpool's worst signings, certainly in the Premier League era. The Serbian winger rose to prominence at Benfica as a teenager, with the Reds then bringing him to Anfield for an estimated £20m in 2014. He has unsuccessful loan spells at Fenerbahce, Sporting CP, Hull City and Anderlecht before joining Fulham on a free in January. However, at 25, time is still on his side. A move to humbler surroundings might just be what the midfielder needs to rebuild his career.

Nineteen from the over, the ball soaring into the crowd. Ben Stokes had seen this story before from the other side.

West Indies needed 19 as England's premier all-rounder stood at the end of his mark to conclude the 2016 World T20 final. Six, six, six and another six from Carlos Brathwaite later and expectations of glory were in tatters.

A more successful final outing under his belt, Stokes was the man dishing out punishment to the previously imperious Josh Hazlewood at Headingley on Sunday, orchestrating a mind-boggling chase of 359 and a one-wicket win that will forever have its place in cricket history.

Decades from now the highlights packages of those audacious exploits will be pored over time and again, but it is interesting to consider how this Test era – apparently Stokes' world with the rest of us merely living in it – might be viewed overall.

Because this most grand and elegant of team sports has never seemed so unhinged.

Kusal the Durban destroyer

At the start of last month, only six times in the previous century had a team won a Test having been dismissed for under 100 in their first innings. England have since done it twice.

Stokes' unbeaten 135 has understandably been described as a once-in-a-lifetime innings, but Kusal Perera did something remarkably similar in February.

Needing 304 to beat South Africa, Kusal was joined by last man Vishwa Fernando with the score 226-9. The Jack Leach of the piece, Fernando was relatively prolific in compiling six not out.

Meanwhile Kusal bludgeoned his way to an unbeaten 153, with 12 fours and five sixes. It secured a one-wicket win from beyond the wildest dreams or nightmares of those involved.

There is not a more daunting pace trio to successfully take to the cleaners in world cricket than Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson, as Stokes and his broken helmet will attest. The combination of Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier that Kusal faced down comes pretty close.

Like Stokes, Kusal is a white-ball destroyer. He boasts five ODI centuries and 10 T20I fifties. On Monday, he bagged a second straight duck as Sri Lanka were walloped by an innings and 65 runs in Colombo. New Zealand's masterful seam duo of Trent Boult and Tim Southee were seldom manoeuvred far from the cut strip.

The hosts' 122 all out demonstrated little of the skill or inclination needed to save a draw with rain around. It had far more in common with England's 67 all out at Headingley on Friday, where Stokes - a picture of dedication and self-denial until his prolonged pyrotechnics in the second innings - played the most abysmal shot of them all.

This is the boom and bust of modern Test cricket. Two sides of the same golden coin.

Twenty20 vision

Once a cash cow and now the untamed money monster, T20 and its global franchise leagues increasingly set the sport's direction of travel.

The international schedule has been tailored accordingly, often in vain, to keep the biggest stars in their country's colours. Preparation, tour matches and the repetition required for mastery when facing the red ball and first-class cricket's particular challenges are all lacking.

It means the likes of Hazlewood and Cummins or Boult and Southee can approach most top orders with glee if conditions offer them anything. Technique and temperament are always likely to be in the bowler's favour.

The other side of this is batsmen think all things can be achieved at all times. Stokes' Leeds barrage has been mentioned alongside the best knocks from greats such as Brian Lara and VVS Laxman. But none of those hallowed names could have called upon the thumping, ramping and reverse-slogging solutions he had to hand.

Stokes, Kusal and their ilk have honed these skills in pressure situations around the world. They know they can pull it off under suffocating pressure.

In what must be a grim realisation, the bowlers know it too. Stokes knew it as Brathwaite made merry. The best riposte can come from mystery spin or extreme pace. See Jofra Archer, another stalwart of cricket's new age making an indelible mark upon its oldest contest.

As schedules become ever more contorted and stretched, with first-class competitions neglected and shunted to the margins, there will be a reckoning for Test cricket that might not be pretty.

In the meantime, we at least get to enjoy this glorious, baffling hybrid of infinite possibility. Cricket featuring all you ever knew producing results you never considered for a moment. What a time to be alive in Ben Stokes' world.

Ben Stokes' remarkable heroics at Headingley mean the Ashes series is all square at 1-1 with two to play.

But beyond what can reasonably be considered among the greatest Test innings of all time in one of the most remarkable finales in the history of cricket's longest format, there is plenty for England and Australia to consider.

The flaws of both teams have contributed to the undulating drama of this series every bit as much as individual brilliance on each side.

Before they reconvene at Old Trafford next week, here are some selection quandaries England and Australia must ponder.

ENGLAND

Roy's race is run

While Stokes has transferred his golden Cricket World Cup form to the Test format, the punt on white-ball specialist Jason Roy bringing his talents to bear at the top of the England order has failed to come off.

A best of 28 has been followed by four consecutive failures to reach double figures, with muddled footwork and a lost off stump making it seem cruel to ask Roy to keep on facing the new ball. Dropping into the middle order, with Joe Denly promoted to open, is one option, though a spell out of the side feels kinder right now.

Should England want to bring in a new face alongside Rory Burns, Warwickshire's Dominic Sibley is the leading option thanks to three centuries and four fifties in the County Championship this season.

Buttler best left out?

Over the course of three Tests, Jos Buttler has edged down from five to seven in the England order. A gutsy second-innings 31 at Lord's is his only effort to recommend among a string of single-figure scores, even if he could do little about being run out by Headingley hero Stokes.

Surrey's Ollie Pope thumped an unbeaten double century against Hampshire earlier this month and looks ripe for a recall to the middle order in place of either Roy or Buttler.

Bowling at the James Anderson End… James Anderson?

Chris Woakes has become increasingly peripheral with the ball and Australia have nullified his all-round capabilities with short-pitched assaults. The identity of England's third seamer looks likely to change at Old Trafford.

James Anderson would love to feature at his home ground but must do more to prove his fitness in an outing with Lancashire's second XI this week.

Sam Curran would provide left-arm variety and accomplished batting from number eight in the order, yet may once again miss out on selection.

 

AUSTRALIA

Smith in for who?

Steve Smith could return from his concussion-enforced absence and the tourists are not short of candidates to make way.

Usman Khawaja is without a half-century in the series and his airy 23 during the second innings at Headingley stood as a jarring counterpoint to Marnus Labuschagne's application.

Travis Head and Matthew Wade might also need to help their cause in this week's tour match at Derbyshire.

Starc in for who?

Mitchell Starc has been a spectator so far but could be drafted into the XI to bowl on an Old Trafford surface well-suited to his talents.

The left-arm paceman's relative inability to bowl "dry" means he is an uneasy fit with Australia's overall gameplan, but his expertise against the tail would have been a huge asset in Leeds.

Taking out any seamer involved in rolling England for a first-innings 67 would be harsh, but James Pattinson would appear the most vulnerable.

Marsh an option to bolster attack

For the first time in the series, Australia's four-man attack looked tired as they wilted in the Headingley heat.

The lack of top-six batsmen emphatically stating their case could open the door to Mitchell Marsh. The all-rounder hit two centuries in the last Ashes series in Australia and his right-arm seam would ease the load on a supreme but now-wounded bowling unit.

It was one of the most remarkable centuries ever compiled and yet there was no raise of the bat from Ben Stokes, barely an acknowledgement of the extraordinary feat he had just achieved.

He ushered Jack Leach away from a fist bump and sheepishly flicked his hand in the direction of the England dressing room in the hope of getting them to end their applause.

Stokes was not ungrateful, just a man hellbent on his mission, and at that point the collective goal was still 33 runs away, a dot on the horizon.

"Personal milestones, especially in that situation, mean absolutely nothing," Stokes said later. "There was still a lot more runs to get."

He would strike his next two deliveries for back-to-back sixes. This was a man who had taken 83 balls to reach double figures but had traded in the Morris Minor approach for a style befitting a Ferrari, accelerating away to clinch an incredible one-wicket victory that kept the Ashes alive.

It should also be held up as the reason why Test cricket should not just remain alive, but thrive.

In an era of instant gratification, of 280 characters, of disappearing 'stories' and fast fashion, Test cricket is an outlier. It's a game viewed as too long to be consumed by the masses. Not colourful enough, not loud enough, not thrilling enough.

And yet the third Test between England and Australia was a reminder of its enduring quality. No other sport can match the steady accumulation of intrigue and tension across days, with a myriad of factors that can swing a pendulum this way and that.

How can England have been rolled for 67 inside 28 overs on Friday and then, two days later, amass 362-9? How can Stokes have led the way with 11 boundaries and eight sixes having started the day on two from 50 balls?

Perhaps it should not have been surprising, for this is swiftly turning into the English summer of Stokes.

The last time these two nations met in the Ashes, Stokes was withdrawn from consideration having been arrested for an incident following a fight outside a nightclub in Bristol. Without their talisman, England were beaten 4-0.

Stokes was later cleared of affray and, upon being told he would miss no further England matches in December 2018, he issued a statement that said he "learned lessons that will stay with me for much longer".

Just as England did at Headingley after their first-innings debacle, Stokes was given a second chance and has certainly grabbed it.

It was his brilliance in the Cricket World Cup final which delivered the trophy for England at Lord's last month, and he was the headline act again at Headingley on Sunday when making a brilliant 135 not out.

As his captain Joe Root said: "Games like that just make Test cricket the best."

Football may have 90 minutes of action-packed drama. Super Bowls might have three and a half hours of cat-and-mouse chess. But Stokes reminded everyone that nothing can beat the topsy-turvy theatre of Test match cricket when it's done right.

Ben Stokes produced the innings of a lifetime to rescue England's Ashes dream on a remarkable day of Test cricket at Headingley on Sunday.

A dismal first-innings total of 67 left England's chances of regaining the urn seemingly in tatters and a daunting target of 359 meant the home side needed to record their biggest successful Test run chase to prevent Australia taking an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Joe Root and Joe Denly's sublime century stand a day before laid the foundation for an unreal day four, though, as Stokes – just a month on from his heroics in the Cricket World Cup final – once again came to his side's rescue.

An unbeaten 135 helped secure a truly memorable one-wicket victory, with Jack Leach playing an unlikely side-kick by safely seeing off 17 balls for the return of one run.

A raucous Leeds crowd saluted their hero and below we take a look at the key moments of one of the greatest days in Test history.


ROOT BLOW LEAVES ENGLAND WOUNDED

Many predicted England's hopes would hinge largely on the performance of captain Root, whose stand with Denly had given the hosts a fighting chance in the first place. But Root will have been kicking himself after an ill-advised charge on Nathan Lyon looped off his pad, over wicketkeeper Tim Paine and drew a stunning catch on the dive to his left from David Warner. Having added just two to his overnight score, England were at 159-4.

STOKES AND BAIRSTOW CHIP AWAY

That was the only damage done to England's scoreboard in the morning session as Stokes and Jonny Bairstow sought about chipping away at the target. It took Stokes 83 balls to reach double figures, while his partner scored slightly quicker. It was a crucial partnership for England.

BAIRSTOW DISMISSAL TRIGGERS COLLAPSE

Stokes and Bairstow led England to 238-4 by lunch, but things unravelled in the afternoon session. Bairstow's poor waft at Josh Hazlewood's delivery, which was moving away, was pouched gleefully by Marnus Labuschagne in the slips. A horror miscommunication between Stokes and Jos Buttler saw the latter run out for just one, and Chris Woakes (1) and Stuart Broad (0) went cheaply either side of an entertaining 15 from Jofra Archer. Enter Jack Leach.

STOKES SWINGS FOR THE FENCES

At 286-9, Stokes decided the time was right to start swinging the bat and boy did he do so. Lyon was given the treatment – including a remarkable reverse sweep over the ropes – while Hazlewood was whacked for six off back-to-back balls. Stokes' brilliance had dramatically brought England back into the match, but there were a few more nervy moments along the way…

WICKET REPRIEVES

Every great story needs some peaks and troughs, and so it was for England. Had Marcus Harris clung onto an undercooked Stokes slog at third man, or Lyon not missed a simple-looking run-out with Leach well out of his crease, then the course of history would have been markedly different. There was more bad news for Lyon when video technology showed he had Stokes pinned lbw not long after, but the decision was not given on the field and Australia had already burned their reviews. It was a huge moment for England.

STOKES SEALS IT IN STYLE

That failed appeal still left Leach on strike and England needing two to win and one to draw. The number 11's gutsy resistance returned a single run with a jab past short leg off Pat Cummins, which brought Stokes back to the fore. Headingley waited with bated breath and Stokes smacked one through the covers before throwing his arms wide and roaring in sheer jubilation at the miracle he had just orchestrated.

Chelsea and Manchester City enjoyed successful away trips in gameweek three of the Premier League season, with the Blues turning to youth for inspiration while the champions were inspired by longstanding heroes.

A transfer ban has forced Frank Lampard to rely on a batch of talented Chelsea youngsters as he looks to make a positive start to life as a Premier League manager, and some of his hottest prospects showed more than just potential on their trip to Norwich City.

While Chelsea picked up a first league win of the season and Manchester City took three points from their trip to Bournemouth, it is Liverpool who remain the top flight's pace-setters after they brushed Arsenal aside at Anfield.

With the help of Opta's stats, take a deep dive into the weekend's biggest stories.

 

ABRAHAM AT THE DOUBLE FOR LAMPARD'S YOUNG BLUES

Lampard fielded Chelsea's youngest Premier League side for 25 years at Carrow Road, where Tammy Abraham scored twice in a 3-2 victory.

With the likes of Abraham, Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic in the side, the Blues' average age was just 24 years and 208 days, making it the most youthful Chelsea team to play a Premier League game since February 1994 against Oldham (average age: 24y 190d).

Abraham, who has scored more league goals since the start of last season (28) than any other English player in the top two divisions, became the third youngest player to score a double for Chelsea in the Premier League - after Mark Nicholls in January 1998 and Eddie Newton in December 1992.

Mount also found the net, scoring for the second game running, and the last time Chelsea had two English players under the age of 21 score in the same Premier League match was back in August 1992 (Newton and Graham Stuart against Sheffield Wednesday).

SILVA SHINES ON LANDMARK APPEARANCE

Manchester City saw off Bournemouth 3-1 at the Vitality Stadium to make it nine top-flight wins out of nine in this fixture - the best 100 per cent win record by a team over an opponent in top-flight history.

Kevin De Bruyne set up the first of Sergio Aguero's two goals on the south coast to register his 50th Premier League assist in his 123rd appearance, reaching that milestone figure in fewer games than any other player in the competition's history.

Argentina international Aguero's second came 19 minutes into the second half and was his 400th career goal for club and country, with 235 of those coming for City.

The match was also a special occasion for David Silva, who marked his 400th appearance for City with a couple of assists of his own. The Spanish midfielder has assisted more than once in 14 separate Premier League games - only Ryan Giggs and Cesc Fabregas have done so more often (17 games).

Harry Wilson's sublime free-kick late in the first half to make it 2-1 saw him become the youngest player, at 22 years and 156 days, to score in his first two Premier League appearances since Anthony Martial in September 2015 (19 years, 289 days).

SALAH STILL DEADLY AS LIVERPOOL STREAK CONTINUES

Liverpool won for the 12th league game running with a 3-1 victory over Arsenal - their best streak in the Premier League and their joint-best ever in all league competition, equalling the record set under Kenny Dalglish in 1990.

Mohamed Salah scored a second-half double at Anfield and has now been directly involved in more Premier League goals against Arsenal than he has any other side - six goals and two assists, including a goal in all four of his home games against them.

The first of Salah's goals came via the penalty spot after he was pulled back by David Luiz inside the box. Arsenal have given away eight Premier League penalties since the start of last season - only Brighton and Hove Albion with 10 have faced more.

It was a familiar story for Arsenal in many ways as they have now failed to win any of their last 23 away league games against fellow 'big six' sides, conceding 53 goals and keeping just one clean sheet during that run.

The performance of Nicolas Pepe on his full debut did give Arsenal supporters something to take away from the game, however, with the club-record signing becoming the first player to successfully dribble past Virgil van Dijk in the Liverpool defender's last 50 league appearances.

JOELINTON HELPS MAGPIES END 'BIG SIX' HOODOO

Newcastle United got their first Premier League win under Steve Bruce thanks to Joelinton's first-half winner against Tottenham, and drew a line under a long-standing struggle on the road against the division's top sides.

Prior to Sunday's result, Newcastle had not beaten one of the Premier League's 'big six' in an away fixture since a 2-1 victory in December 2015 - also against Tottenham.

The game was disappointing for Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, who saw his side suffer their first league defeat of the season in his 500th match as a manager in all competitions and his first defeat against Newcastle since May 2016 (a 5-1 loss).

It was a different story for Bruce, who recorded his first away victory as a manager against Spurs in the Premier League, and became the sixth boss in the competition's history to win a match with five or more different teams after Alan Pardew (5), Harry Redknapp (5), Mark Hughes (6), Roy Hodgson (5) and Sam Allardyce (7).

England and Australia served up another all-time Ashes classic at Headingley as the hosts somehow secured a one-wicket victory to level the series.

Joe Root's team had looked dead and buried, in both the contest and the series, when chasing a record 359 in the third Test.

Still needing another 73 when last man Jack Leach came to the crease, England pulled off a miracle thanks to Ben Stokes' unbeaten 135.

We take a look at other thrilling Ashes Tests after the humdinger at Headingley.

Kevin De Bruyne's pass for Sergio Aguero's opening goal in Manchester City's 3-1 win over Bournemouth on Sunday made the midfielder the fastest player to reach 50 assists in Premier League history.

The Belgium international hit the landmark inside 123 Premier League appearances, beating Mesut Ozil's record of 50 in 141 matches.

The assist that clinched the record was by no means De Bruyne's finest work; he appeared to miskick a shot and the ball dropped fortuitously to Aguero, who gleefully tucked it into the Bournemouth net to give City the lead.

But over the years De Bruyne has earned a reputation for the artistry and incisiveness with which his passes unpick opponents. We have selected five of his best.

 

Manchester City 2-0 Watford - December 14, 2016

City supporters have become accustomed to seeing De Bruyne surrounded by opponents and when Watford visited the Etihad Stadium on this occasion, the Belgian found himself confronted by a line of Hornets defenders as he sauntered into the box.

Utterly undaunted, he floated the ball over the heads of seven opponents and somehow picked out Pablo Zabaleta, who half-volleyed home with aplomb.

Manchester City 7-2 Stoke City - October 14, 2017

The supreme confidence De Bruyne has in his own passing ability was there for all to see during City's destruction of Stoke at the Etihad in 2017-18.

De Bruyne rightly backed Leroy Sane's ability to out-pace Geoff Cameron and rolled a 30-yard pass along the turf, right into the Germany international's path.

Newcastle United 0-1 Manchester City - December 27, 2017

There are few sights in football more pleasing than a weighted pass being struck first time into the net, and few players are more likely to deliver it than De Bruyne.

After 31 minutes at St James' Park, De Bruyne nonchalantly dinked a looping ball forwards and Raheem Sterling made a dart for the six-yard box, where he beat Rob Elliot with a sliding volley.

Southampton 0-1 Manchester City - May 13, 2018

City were on course for a disappointing goalless draw at Southampton in the final game of 2017-18, before a marvellous intervention by De Bruyne.

The midfielder was deep inside his own half when he floated a 50-yard pass that landed on the toes of Gabriel Jesus on the edge of the Southampton box, and the Brazilian striker dinked it over Alex McCarthy.

Manchester City 2-2 Tottenham, August 17, 2019

De Bruyne produced a masterful pass to help Sterling break the deadlock after 20 minutes of City's clash with Tottenham in their second Premier League game this season.

Spotting Sterling's back-post run early, De Bruyne received the ball from Bernardo Silva and whipped a first-time cross that curled onto the England winger's head for a straightforward finish.

Kevin De Bruyne claimed his 50th Premier League assist in Manchester City's trip to Bournemouth on Sunday, reaching that mark in record time.

When City's Belgian talisman is in full swing, there is little question he is heading in the direction of being regarded a Premier League great.

The statistic behind his assist for Sergio Aguero's opener at the Vitality Stadium is the case in point, as he set a new record for the fewest matches needed to create 50 goals.

Ironically, he surely cannot claim to have meant this one as his scuffed shot fell to Aguero who swept home, but it has seen De Bruyne reach the 50 mark in just 123 games, nudging to the top of a list of illustrious modern-day players.

 

Mesut Ozil

While the German playmaker polarises opinion, few would doubt his quality at unlocking defences, particularly under Arsene Wenger. Ozil held the record before De Bruyne, recording 50 assists after 141 matches for Arsenal. The 2015-16 campaign brought his biggest contribution, setting up 19 goals.

 

Eric Cantona

A Premier League all-time superstar almost as much for his outlandish personality, notoriety and bizarre quotes as his ability on the pitch. The French attacker was arguably the first real Manchester United idol of the Premier League era, scoring spectacular goals aplenty and crafting them too, hitting the 50 assists mark in his 143rd match.

"When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea." Perhaps the famous quote was in reference to team-mates expecting him to provide assists? Probably not.

 

Dennis Bergkamp

The legacy of Dutch great Bergkamp is his penchant for the unexpected. Few players to have graced the Premier League had such a spellbinding impact on the ball, his legendary goal against Newcastle United when he turned Nikos Dabizas inside out – you can decide whether it was deliberate or not – a classic of the genre. He supplied 50 goals to team-mates in 146 matches, a slightly less impressive record than Ozil, though it's unlikely the German will be remembered as fondly by fans as Bergkamp.

 

Cesc Fabregas

The third former Arsenal player on the list – the Gunners have certainly been blessed with some clever, creative talents in the Premier League era. After breaking into the team as a teenager under Wenger, Fabregas went on to become a real midfield force and, arguably, the best in the league for a time. His first 50 assists took 165 matches to reach, though he occupied a significantly deeper role than Ozil, Cantona and Bergkamp.

David Silva

Pep Guardiola admitted on Friday he had doubts about Silva's suitability to Premier League football when he made the move from LaLiga in 2010. Guardiola was one of many, but the playmaker has emphatically proven himself. Across almost a decade, Silva has gone on to be regarded as one of the Premier League's greatest imports, making his 400th appearance for City on Sunday. He took one match more than Fabregas to hit 50 assists, but his consistency and influence on one of the division's greatest dynasties highlight his overall greater impact.

Andrew Luck's shock retirement has thrust Jacoby Brissett into the limelight for the Indianapolis Colts.

Before Luck announced his decision there had been talk of Brissett potentially being traded, though such suggestions were shut down by the Colts' front office.

Now he is the man tasked with leading Frank Reich's offense and will have an extremely tough act to follow after Luck finished his fine career with a 2018 season that saw him throw for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns.

But who is Brissett, and does he have what it takes to fill the void? Here we take a look at the Colts' new starting quarterback.

 

When was Brissett drafted?

Brissett entered the NFL as a third-round pick of the New England Patriots in the 2016 draft after a pair of stellar college seasons at NC State. After transferring from Florida, Brissett threw for 5,268 yards, 43 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions for the Wolfpack.

How did the Colts acquire him?

The Colts sent wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to the Patriots to land Brissett in a trade in September 2017, giving them another option under center with Luck's status still up in the air as he recovered from surgery on a separated shoulder.

What is his NFL experience?

Indianapolis will have been convinced to trade for Brissett partially by his performance in relief of the suspended Tom Brady and injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 3 of the 2016 season. Brissett led the Patriots to a 27-0 victory and, with Brady guiding them to a Lombardi Trophy following his return, left New England with a Super Bowl ring.

He replaced Scott Tolzien in Week 1 of the 2017 season as the Colts were thrashed 46-9 by the Los Angeles Rams. From there he started the remaining 15 games and, though he only managed to lead a poor Colts team to four victories, Brissett emerged from the campaign with plenty of credit. He threw for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He also ran for 260 yards and four touchdowns.

Can he fill the void?

"Jacoby Brissett is a winning football player in this league. Jacoby Brissett is a rare, rare leader. He is. He's a rare human being, man. That locker room loves Jacoby Brissett. They love him."

Those were the words of Colts general manager Chris Ballard following Luck's retirement, making it clear Brissett will have the faith of the locker room.

But is he good enough to ensure the Colts remain contenders post-Luck?

There is no doubt he has the arm. Brissett has no problem throwing the long ball and, when Luck was still struggling with his shoulder last year, was brought on for a late Hail Mary attempt against the Philadelphia Eagles.

In his 2017 season, Brissett also demonstrated the ability to go through his progressions and hang tough in the pocket even as it collapsed around him.

He may not have to worry too much about the pocket disintegrating in his second go-around as starter. The Colts have invested heavily in the offensive line, in an effort to protect Luck from the injuries that ultimately brought an early end to his career, and 2018 draft picks Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith have done an excellent job of shoring things up in the trenches.

Luck was sacked only 18 times in 2018, with Brissett having suffered 52 a year earlier.

Brissett is a superior runner to Luck and the damage he can do with his legs adds another dimension to an offense featuring plenty of talent.

In addition to an improving O-Line, Brissett has the benefit of one of the better offensive minds in the game in Reich, as well as an impressive array of pass-catching options including T.Y. Hilton, tight end Eric Ebron and electric rookie Parris Campbell.

The Colts have done a tremendous job of putting Brissett in a position to succeed. For him to do so he will need to show greater consistency and accuracy.

Completion percentage is not the ultimate barometer of the latter, but Brissett completed only 58.8 per cent of his passes in 2017. Luck's percentage was under 60 only twice in his six seasons.

However, with Reich at the helm he has an ideal coach to help him realise his potential. Without Luck the Colts may not be the favourites to win the AFC South, but Brissett is capable of keeping them firmly in contention.

Andrew Luck rocked the NFL on Saturday when he confirmed he was retiring.

The 29-year-old, who has battled injuries since entering the league with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, said at a press conference that his problems had "taken my joy of this game away".

One of the most hyped quarterbacks to enter the NFL in recent years, former first overall pick Luck certainly lived up to the billing when he was able to get on the field.

Here, we take a look at Luck's career in numbers.


171 - The former Stanford Cardinal tossed 171 touchdowns with the Colts. In NFL history, only Aaron Rodgers and Dan Marino threw more in their first 86 regular-season games.

40 - Of those 171, 40 came in 2014 when Luck led the league in touchdown passes. Only eight men have thrown for more in a single season.

53-33-0 - Indianapolis won 53 of the 86 regular-season games Luck started. The Colts won two AFC South titles in 2013 and 2014 and made the playoffs on four occasions in the Luck era.

4 - Luck was named to the Pro Bowl four times and last season he won the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award.

20 - There were 20 game-winning drives in Luck's career. Only Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford have had more since 2012.

28 - The Colts were 28 points down to the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs when Luck engineered what was, at the time, the second-biggest postseason comeback of all time on January 4, 2014.

174 - Luck was sacked on 174 occasions in his career, with 156 of those coming in his first five years as a pro and 41 in his rookie campaign.

4,374 - The record 4,374 yards Luck threw as a rookie remains the leading mark of any first-year quarterback.

11 - Luck played the Tennessee Titans on 11 occasions in his career. The Colts won every single game. 

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