World Darts Championship: Everything you need to know about the event at Alexandra Palace

Nigel Chiu

Sports Journalist

Michael Smith will defend his world title against the greatest darts players in the world as the Alexandra Palace is ready to provide drama, fun and entertainment; we’re back for the World Darts Championship from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports

Last Updated: 07/12/23 3:04pm


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Take a look at how the world watched on as Michael Smith hit a nine-darter in the 2023 World Championship Final and Wayne Mardle lost his voice!

Take a look at how the world watched on as Michael Smith hit a nine-darter in the 2023 World Championship Final and Wayne Mardle lost his voice!

Sit back, put your feet up and switch on the darts. It’s that time of year when the sporting world turns their attention to the Alexandra Palace in London for the World Darts Championship.

It’s been 30 years since the PDC’s first World Championship began and we have seen pretty much everything over the last three decades.

From iconic walk-ons, arguments on the oche, huge upsets and nine-darters, including a certain “I can’t spake” – the World Championship always delivers.

When is the World Darts Championship 2024?

The 31st World Darts Championship takes place from Friday December 15 to Wednesday January 3.

There is action every day apart from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve.

Where is the World Darts Championship 2024?

The World Darts Championship is held at the Alexandra Palace in London, which has been the case since 2008.

Previously, the Circus Tavern in Essex hosted the biggest darts event of the year from 1994 to 2007.

The most outrageous moments from the World Darts Championship. Includes Peter Wright dressing up as The Grinch and William Borland's memorable nine-darter!

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The most outrageous moments from the World Darts Championship. Includes Peter Wright dressing up as The Grinch and William Borland’s memorable nine-darter!

The most outrageous moments from the World Darts Championship. Includes Peter Wright dressing up as The Grinch and William Borland’s memorable nine-darter!

Why is the Alexandra Palace so special?

There’s no definitive answers for this but hosting a renowned tournament each year which sells out every time probably helps.

‘Ally Pally’ also hosts the Masters snooker tournament in January and Pool’s Mosconi cup biannually during the winter too, so it feels like the home of cue sports in this period.

How to watch the World Darts Championship

You won’t miss an arrow in the World Championship on the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel, with the best of the action also on Sky Sports Main Event.

Coverage begins on Friday December 15 at 7pm, with afternoon sessions at 12.30pm and evening sessions at 7pm taking place for the rest of the tournament up to the quarter-finals on Monday January 1.

The semi-finals are on Tuesday January 2 from 7.30pm and the final is on Wednesday January 3 at 7pm.

Wayne Mardle breaks down the World Darts Championship draw and picks out the tough games for the seeded players.

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Wayne Mardle breaks down the World Darts Championship draw and picks out the tough games for the seeded players.

Wayne Mardle breaks down the World Darts Championship draw and picks out the tough games for the seeded players.

World Darts Championship format

The World Championship uses the sets format, with each set being the first to three legs. The deciding set must be won by at least two legs, so if it’s 2-2 in the final set, a player must win 4-2 or 5-3. If it’s 5-5, a sudden-death leg will take place with no throw for the bull, so the alteration of whoever throws first simply continues.

World Darts Championship format

Round First to (sets)
1 and 2 3
3 and 4 4
Quarter-finals 5
Semi-finals 6
Final 7

Is Fallon Sherrock playing?

Fallon Sherrock is one of two female players in the World Championship, along with two-time BDO Women’s world champion Mikuru Suzuki.

Sherrock has a historic run to the third round in 2020 when she beat Ted Evetts to become the first female player to win a match at a PDC World Championship. The ‘Queen of the Palace’ then defeated Mensur Suljovic before losing in the last 32 to Chris Dobey.

Sherrock faces Jermaine Wattimena on December 17 with the winner progressing to a round two date with Martin Schindler.

Suzuki played in the 2020 tournament but lost in the first round to James Richardson and is making her second appearance at the Ally Pally this year. She plays Ricardo Pietreczko on December 19.

Watch Fallon Sherrock become the first female to hit a televised nine-darter earlier this year

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Watch Fallon Sherrock become the first female to hit a televised nine-darter earlier this year

Watch Fallon Sherrock become the first female to hit a televised nine-darter earlier this year

Who is the defending champion?

Michael Smith is the defending champion, therefore seeded first, after beating Michael van Gerwen in a final which is remember for THAT nine-darter. No player has defended their title since Gary Anderson in 2015 and 2016.

Van Gerwen will be among the big favourites but the form player is Luke Humphries, who has won three of the four tournaments.

Throw in the likes of Gerwyn Price, Peter Wright and fan favourites such as Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld and the ingredients are all there for a spectacular tournament.

PDC World Darts Championship winners

PDC World Champions

Year Player
1994 Dennis Priestley
1995 Phil Taylor
1996 Phil Taylor
1997 Phil Taylor
1998 Phil Taylor
1999 Phil Taylor
2000 Phil Taylor
2001 Phil Taylor
2002 Phil Taylor
2003 John Part
2004 Phil Taylor
2005 Phil Taylor
2006 Phil Taylor
2007 Raymond van Barneveld
2008 John Part
2009 Phil Taylor
2010 Phil Taylor
2011 Adrian Lewis
2012 Adrian Lewis
2013 Phil Taylor
2014 Michael van Gerwen
2015 Gary Anderson
2016 Gary Anderson
2017 Michael van Gerwen
2018 Rob Cross
2019 Michael van Gerwen
2020 Peter Wright
2021 Gerwyn Price
2022 Peter Wright
2023 Michael Smith

How many world titles has Phil Taylor won?

Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor won 14 PDC world titles but also became world champion twice before the PDC era.

It’s a record which many think will be impossible to beat. Van Gerwen has won three titles, with John Part, Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis and Peter Wright the only other multiple winners.

How many nine-darters have there been?

It’s fair to say nine-darters have become more common in the sport but there have only been 14 in the history of the PDC World Championship.

The first only came in 2009 when Raymond van Barneveld nailed the perfect leg. Barney did it again a year later, then Adrian Lewis made the first nine-darter in a final in 2011.

Watch every nine-darter hit at the PDC World Championship.

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Watch every nine-darter hit at the PDC World Championship.

Watch every nine-darter hit at the PDC World Championship.

Two nines were done in 2013 thanks to Dean Winstanley and Van Gerwen. Terry Jenkins and Kyle Anderson joined the illustrious nine-dart list in 2014, with Lewis making a second nine in 2015.

In 2016, Gary Anderson made a nine in the semi-finals and there was a five-year gap until the next perfect leg.

The player who’s faced so many nine-darters against him, James Wade, became the eighth player to do a nine, then there were three in 2022 from William Borland, Darius Labanauskas and Gerwyn Price.

And, of course, Michael Smith’s nine-darter in the 2023 final against Van Gerwen has been etched in darting folklore in what has to be the best leg of darts ever.

Watch how Wayne Mardle and Stuart Pyke reacted to the sensational leg between Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith in the World Championship Final that culminated in a nine-darter for Bully Boy.

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Watch how Wayne Mardle and Stuart Pyke reacted to the sensational leg between Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith in the World Championship Final that culminated in a nine-darter for Bully Boy.

Watch how Wayne Mardle and Stuart Pyke reacted to the sensational leg between Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith in the World Championship Final that culminated in a nine-darter for Bully Boy.

How much beer is drunk at the World Championship?

Around 90,000 darts fans will flock the Ally Pally from the middle of December to early January. As the crowd stand up to love the darts, they may have a pint in their hand too.

How many pints are drunk you ask? Around half a million across the event apparently.

What’s the song they play at the darts in between breaks?

Ever had that annoying feeling when you know how a song goes but don’t know what it’s called? You may think that about the song which is played during breaks in the match at the end of a leg during the World Championship.

It’s called Chase the Sun by Planet Funk and you just have to join in when it comes on.

Watch the World Darts Championship from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports. Stream your favourite sports and more with NOW



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Christian Horner and Red Bull expect 2024 F1 field to ‘converge’ after record-breaking Max Verstappen season

Max Verstappen and Red Bull were utterly dominant in F1 2023; Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin are all looking to get closer next year after each challenging at different points in the season; watch the whole 2024 F1 season live on Sky Sports F1

Last Updated: 04/12/23 5:11pm


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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says his team are ‘aiming for the stars’, but admits they must be realistic in their expectations in 2024.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says his team are ‘aiming for the stars’, but admits they must be realistic in their expectations in 2024.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner expects the 2024 Formula 1 field to close up after his team’s record-breaking campaign this year.

Max Verstappen won an unprecedented 19 races from 22 events, a winning percentage of 86 per cent, and Red Bull finished one-two in the Drivers’ Championship for the first time.

The Milton Keynes-based team failed to win just one race, the Singapore Grand Prix which saw Carlos Sainz take victory, and Verstappen was often unchallenged on some weekends.

Since F1 introduced new ground effect regulations in 2022, Red Bull have won every championship and their dominance began in the middle of that season after Ferrari’s early title challenge faded away.

Ferrari were the team closest to Red Bull at the end of 2023 but McLaren, Mercedes and Aston Martin also got close at various points across the year.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner expects their rivals to be more competitive next season and insists his team cannot afford to stand still.

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner expects their rivals to be more competitive next season and insists his team cannot afford to stand still.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner expects their rivals to be more competitive next season and insists his team cannot afford to stand still.

“Nobody stands still. We’ve got a great basis, so it’s more evolution [of the car] than revolution. But I’m sure it’s going to converge a bit next year, so we can’t rest on our laurels,” Horner told Sky Sports News at the Autosport Awards.

“They [competitors] are all great teams. McLaren’s form at the back end of the season, Ferrari, Mercedes. Those big teams are going to be coming out all guns blazing next year.”

Wolff confirms ‘completely new car’ for Mercedes

Karun Chandhok, Ted Kravitz and Bernie Collins discuss which drivers impressed the most this season beyond Max Verstappen.

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Karun Chandhok, Ted Kravitz and Bernie Collins discuss which drivers impressed the most this season beyond Max Verstappen.

Karun Chandhok, Ted Kravitz and Bernie Collins discuss which drivers impressed the most this season beyond Max Verstappen.

Mercedes finished runners-up to Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship but went winless in a season for the first time since 2011.

Lewis Hamilton hasn’t won since December 2021 at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and played down his chances to challenge for the title next year.

There was a glimmer of hope for Mercedes when Hamilton took pole position in Hungary and showed strong pace in the second half of the season but Toto Wolff feels his team have a big deficit to close.

Ted Kravitz, Bernie Collins and Karun Chandhok look back at their favourite races of the season.

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Ted Kravitz, Bernie Collins and Karun Chandhok look back at their favourite races of the season.

Ted Kravitz, Bernie Collins and Karun Chandhok look back at their favourite races of the season.

“A new season starts with a completely new car, and that gives opportunities but also risks,” said Wolff.

“I think we’ve got to be realistic. We are aiming for the stars, but we finished only second against a team who was outperforming everybody else.

“I’ve always said this is a meritocracy and the best driver and car wins. Therefore, we have to get our act together, and I hope it’s us [to put Red Bull under pressure].”

What are McLaren’s chances?

McLaren boss Zak Brown is hoping for a strong start to the new season as they aim to narrow the gap on the Red Bulls in 2024.

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McLaren boss Zak Brown is hoping for a strong start to the new season as they aim to narrow the gap on the Red Bulls in 2024.

McLaren boss Zak Brown is hoping for a strong start to the new season as they aim to narrow the gap on the Red Bulls in 2024.

McLaren made remarkable progress throughout 2023 after starting the season as one of the worst cars in terms of pace at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

A big upgrade ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix in July saw them leap up the pecking order and Lando Norris led the early stages of the British GP on home soil at Silverstone.

Norris’ four consecutive podiums and Oscar Piastri’s Sprint win in Qatar have given McLaren plenty of hope to continue their upward curve into 2024.

Relive the 10 most dramatic crashes from this year's Formula One season.

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Relive the 10 most dramatic crashes from this year’s Formula One season.

Relive the 10 most dramatic crashes from this year’s Formula One season.

“We hope to start the season where we finished off. It’ll be interesting to see where everybody starts next year, but we’re feeling good about our development,” said McLaren CEO Zak Brown.

“I think we learned a lot this year, so I anticipate a much stronger start to 2024 than we had in 2023.”

Piastri’s impressive rookie campaign and Norris’ consistency has made McLaren a genuine force again for the first time in over a decade.

Brown thinks the team have a driver pairing which can challenge for the title.

Ted Kravitz and Karun Chandhok discuss Max Verstappen's dominance of the 2023 F1 season.

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Ted Kravitz and Karun Chandhok discuss Max Verstappen’s dominance of the 2023 F1 season.

Ted Kravitz and Karun Chandhok discuss Max Verstappen’s dominance of the 2023 F1 season.

“I think he [Oscar Piastri] already is [challenging Lando Norris], which is great to have the driver line-up that we have,” Brown said.

“We look at what we need to be a world championship team again, you need to have two great drivers, and we’re comfortable we can tick that box.

“It’s weird, on Max’s [Verstappen] level, there’s never been a less competitive season, but behind Max, there’s never been a more competitive season. The grid was unbelievably close.

“We had five teams with seven or more podiums, which is a record. So there was one car which was uncompetitive with the rest of the field, and the rest of the field is unbelievably competitive. I’m not worried about that.”

24 races in 2024! Watch every round of next season live on Sky Sports F1, starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix from February 29-March 2. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW



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Sam Powell: New Warrington Wolves signing leaves behind home comforts at Wigan Warriors for next chapter


Sam Powell is embarking on a new start with Warrington in 2024

It had almost got to a point where it was difficult to imagine Sam Powell wearing anything other than a Wigan Warriors shirt in the Betfred Super League, let alone pulling on the colours of one of their most bitter rivals.

Yet that will be the case from next season after the hooker agreed the short move down the M6 to Warrington Wolves, bringing to a close 15 years at his hometown club which began with him joining Wigan’s academy as a 16-year-old and ended with October’s Grand Final triumph.

Loan spells with South Wales Scorpions and Workington Town in the early days of his professional career aside, Powell has known little else but the Warriors during a career which has seen him rack up 273 appearances in all competition for the club, plus be part of two Grand Final wins.

Yet the desire to move on after an at-times challenging 2023 campaign which included being sidelined for eight weeks with a shoulder injury and the opportunity to work under rugby league icon Sam Burgess as Powell considers his career beyond playing saw him decide to swap the cherry and white for the primrose and blue.

“I’ve never been closed-minded to think I was going to spend my whole career at Wigan,” Powell said. “The way it was going, it probably looked like that, but it’s professional sport at the end of the day and it comes down to a matter of things.

“I look back at my Wigan career now with my wife and my kids, and I’ve got nothing but great memories. They were good times, but I haven’t got long left in the game so I just want to enjoy myself here and give my input where I can.

“I look at it as a massive positive because I want to coach after I finish playing. I’ve got a chance to work under Sam and see how he does things, and I’ve been under four quality coaches, so the more the merrier.”

We take a look back on Wigan Warriors' route to their first Betfred Super League title since 2018.

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We take a look back on Wigan Warriors’ route to their first Betfred Super League title since 2018.

We take a look back on Wigan Warriors’ route to their first Betfred Super League title since 2018.

Powell already has some coaching experience under his belt after spending time working with Wigan’s youngsters over the past two seasons, and he intends to speak to Warrington director of rugby Gary Chambers to pursue the same opportunity with his new club.

The lessons from his former Warriors bosses Michael Maguire, Shaun Wane, Adrian Lam and Matt Peet have stood the 31-year-old in good stead and Powell is eager to keep gathering as much practical knowledge as possible for when the time eventually comes to hang up his boots.

“First of all, it’s what I see myself doing after the game, so I don’t see the point in waiting until after I’ve finished playing to gain that experience,” Powell, who has found his coaching work so far to be rewarding as well, said.

“Just looking at lads when they came in from signing as scholarship players, they make such a change in two years, and you can have a big influence on people in whether they want to choose rugby league or it’s not for them.

I look back at my Wigan career now with my wife and my kids, and I’ve got nothing but great memories. They were good times, but I haven’t got long left in the game so I just want to enjoy myself here and give my input where I can.

New Warrington signing Sam Powell

“I just enjoy seeing them come in as boys and leaving as young men into the first team and giving them certain aspects, not even in rugby league but lessons in life they can take forward whatever they choose.”

The emergence of Brad O’Neill as Wigan’s starting hooker during Powell’s injury-enforced absence and the signing of ex-Leeds Rhinos No 9 Kruise Leeming for the new season meant the former England Knights international would have likely faced stiff competition for playing time in 2024.

However, he finds himself in a similar position at Warrington because, even with Daryl Clark moving to St Helens, the Wolves have England international Danny Walker and Brad Dwyer, back at the Halliwell Jones Stadium after spells with Leeds and Hull FC, in their ranks too.

Powell accepts he may have to be deployed in the halves as he was at times during his Wigan career to get more minutes with the Wolves, but although he would rather play in his normal position, he is happy to take on another position if needed.

New Warrington Wolves head coach Sam Burgess says that his side 'just need a little bit of tidying up' and discusses his coaching style.

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New Warrington Wolves head coach Sam Burgess says that his side ‘just need a little bit of tidying up’ and discusses his coaching style.

New Warrington Wolves head coach Sam Burgess says that his side ‘just need a little bit of tidying up’ and discusses his coaching style.

“I don’t mind,” Powell said. “My preference would be hooker, but I just want to be on the field playing.

“Danny and Brad are quality players, probably a little bit different to me and how I play my game. All three of us will be striving to get game time and that’s one of my goals.

“It’s a quality squad here with really good players, and I just wanted to be around it.”

Powell has had to hit the ground running with the Wolves, having only linked up with his new team-mates earlier this week with pre-season training already in full swing.

His first competitive outing at the Halliwell Jones Stadium is likely to come in Round 2 of the 2024 Super League season when Warrington host Hull FC in their first home game of the campaign on Friday, February 23.

It is a venue he knows all about from his Wigan days, although this time Powell is looking forward to having the home fans behind him rather than against him.

“I’ve come very open-minded,” Powell said. “Although I know people who play for the club at Warrington, I don’t know too much about it.

“I started a few days ago and that’s something I’m going to have to learn very quickly. I’ve been through the history of the club and trying to get a sense of what it means to the fans, because they’re so passionate.

“I love playing here on Friday nights and it’s something I want to be a part of.”

Watch every match of the 2024 Betfred Super League season, including Magic Weekend, the play-offs, and men’s, women’s and wheelchair Grand Finals, plus the World Club Challenge, live on Sky Sports. Also stream with NOW.



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San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles: NFC’s fierce new rivalry fueled by trash talk


Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey have been playing at All-Pro levels this season

“It was a lot of boo hoos last year, a lot of crying, a lot of what if, a lot of this, a lot of that. They get a chance to come back in here, line that s*** up and prove it again.”

Those were the words of Philadelphia Eagles pass rusher Haason Reddick this week as he looked ahead to the visit of the San Francisco 49ers to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday – the next chapter in a fierce new NFC rivalry.

It made sense that the Niners were upset after departing last year’s playoffs at the hands of the Eagles, considering the manner in which it happened.

After just four passing attempts (and four completions), San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy was sacked by Reddick, who forced a fumble and in the process injured Purdy’s elbow to the point he was unable to throw the ball.

Later, backup QB Josh Johnson also exited with a concussion, and a traditionally exhilarating 49ers attack became completely inept.

Highlights of the San Francisco 49ers against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game last season

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Highlights of the San Francisco 49ers against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game last season

Highlights of the San Francisco 49ers against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game last season

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel said: “We lost because we played with 10 people” after the defeat that ended the Niners’ Super Bowl hopes, before publicly calling Eagles cornerback James Bradberry “trash” over the summer.

At the same time, fellow wideout Brandon Aiyuk argued: “We have, hands down, the best football team in the league… hands down.”

Those comments have stayed in the minds of players, coaches and fans ahead of one of the most exciting matchups of the year.

Aiyuk: We felt like it was our time

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick forced a fumble on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy early in last year's matchup - and hurt the QB in the process

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick forced a fumble on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy early in last year’s matchup – and hurt the QB in the process

In the above quote, Aiyuk was referring to the way the 49ers reached that championship game. They were on a 12-game winning streak. They were fifth in offensive yardage and points scored, as well as first in both categories on defense.

Then the season fizzled out without a fight – or at least, an opportunity for one.

As we approach the ‘business end’ of this regular season, does it feel like San Francisco’s time again?

Based solely on the statistics, this year’s iteration of the Niners might be even better. Third in yards and fourth in points per game on offense. Fifth in yards and first in points on defense, allowing just 15.5 points per game (16.3 last season).

Christian McCaffrey is still the star of the show, and the league’s runaway rushing leader with 939 yards – over 150 more than second-placed Raheem Mostert. McCaffrey’s 1,328 yards from scrimmage are second only to Tyreek Hill, and his 16 total touchdowns are more than anyone.

McCaffrey recently set an NFL record with at least one touchdown in 17 consecutive games

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McCaffrey recently set an NFL record with at least one touchdown in 17 consecutive games

McCaffrey recently set an NFL record with at least one touchdown in 17 consecutive games

But what has been incredible to see is the development of sophomore quarterback Purdy, who is becoming one of the league’s elite quarterbacks – without being in the discussion about it. He does not have strong MVP odds, but head over to Pro Football Reference’s 2023 leaders page and Purdy’s name comes up plenty.

He leads the NFL in passer rating (112.3), completion percentage (70.2) and yards per attempt (9.4). Not only is he completing passes, but he’s pushing the ball down the field. He’s thrown for the eighth-most yards (2,871) and touchdowns (19), with just six interceptions.

With eight wins under his belt too, why isn’t he in the discussion for being the league’s most valuable player? It might be simply because he does not have the name value of a college star and high draft pick. Is it too much of a rise to see someone go from Mr Irrelevant – the 262nd overall pick in 2022 – to the heights he is playing at now?

Or, more likely, it is because the talent around him is tremendous.

Purdy has bounced back from the injury to put up outstanding numbers

Purdy has bounced back from the injury to put up outstanding numbers

McCaffrey, as we know, is the league’s best runner. This week, San Francisco’s offensive line took over Pro Football Focus’s OL rankings for the season. The Niners have a top-10 receiver (Brandon Aiyuk, 881 yards) and a top-three tight end (George Kittle, 667 yards). Deebo Samuel has been slowed by injuries, but is just a season removed from a 1,770-total yard and 14-touchdown 2021 campaign.

The defense, led by defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, not only leads the league in yardage as mentioned above, but causes chaos with turnovers – they have made a league-leading 15 interceptions and forced 21 turnovers in total.

Not only are they schemed up well, but they are absolutely loaded with talent. The Niners are ready for revenge.

Bosa: We were both sad at the end of the year

Hurts and the Eagles are also out for redemption after losing in last year's Super Bowl

Hurts and the Eagles are also out for redemption after losing in last year’s Super Bowl

While Samuel and Aiyuk chose to talk trash, 49ers veterans Fred Warner and Nick Bosa both this week referred to the fact last year was “over”. The Eagles won, nothing changes that. But even Philadelphia did not achieve their ultimate goal of beating the Kansas City Chiefs and winning it all.

So for Eagles, this is a season to make up for the final failure of last year, and a season to prove they are unequivocally the best team in football. So far, that is exactly what they are doing.

At 10-1, they hold the NFL’s best record. They are third in the NFL in points scored per game (28.2 – coincidentally tied with San Francisco), despite a bottom-half defense (22.4 points per game allowed).

The Eagles fought back to beat Buffalo in an incredible overtime thriller last week

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The Eagles fought back to beat Buffalo in an incredible overtime thriller last week

The Eagles fought back to beat Buffalo in an incredible overtime thriller last week

They have quietened any talk of a soft schedule and weak quarterbacks this year or last by beating Miami (8-3), Dallas (8-3), Kansas City (8-3), and Buffalo (6-6) in four of their last five games, as quarterback Jalen Hurts simply continues to find a way to win.

With the 49ers this week and a visit to Dallas next, the Eagles have a chance to continue their Super Bowl revenge tour and get closer to securing the No 1 seed in the NFC.

Incredibly though, despite their 10-1 record, Philadelphia have technically not yet clinched a postseason berth. However, with a win and either a Los Angeles Rams loss or if Detroit and Green Bay both lose, Philly will officially be a playoff team.

Regardless of who comes out on top, it will be a heavyweight bout. And would anyone be surprised if we saw another rematch in January?

Watch the San Francisco 49ers at the Philadelphia Eagles live on Sky Sports NFL at 9.25pm on Sunday.



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Formula 1 driver ratings: Ranking the 2023 grid, with Max Verstappen and Lando Norris among the stars


With 22 rounds in the books and a world champion long-crowned, it’s time to rate the drivers for their performances in the 2023 Formula 1 season.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull: 10

Championship position: 1st – 575 points

Max Verstappen wins yet another Grand Prix to close the curtain on the 2023 F1 season

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Max Verstappen wins yet another Grand Prix to close the curtain on the 2023 F1 season

Max Verstappen wins yet another Grand Prix to close the curtain on the 2023 F1 season

There may never be another season quite as dominant as what Verstappen has delivered in claiming a third successive world championship, setting record win, point and podium totals in the process.

After two wins in the first four races of the season for Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez, the Dutchman went on to make talk of a title race between the Red Bull pair look absurd, reeling off 17 victories in the remaining 18 Grands Prix.

While the RB19 was undoubtedly the best car on the grid, Verstappen’s incredible dominance of Perez – and the rest of the field – required remarkable consistency.

The 26-year-old displayed a growing maturity to handle wet and chaotic races throughout the campaign, many of which could have easily been lost by a mistake or moment of poor judgement.

Verstappen’s near-faultless campaign has established him as a complete driver, who now rightfully sits among the greats of the sport with three titles.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull: 5.5

Championship position: 2nd – 285 points

A dramatic opening lap of the Mexico City GP sees Charles Leclerc collide with Sergio Perez, with the Mexican having to retire

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A dramatic opening lap of the Mexico City GP sees Charles Leclerc collide with Sergio Perez, with the Mexican having to retire

A dramatic opening lap of the Mexico City GP sees Charles Leclerc collide with Sergio Perez, with the Mexican having to retire

It all started so brightly with those two wins in the first four races, but unfortunately, the prospect of going toe-to-toe with Verstappen for a full campaign got in Perez’s head.

After failing to seize a world championship lead when being comprehensively outperformed by Verstappen in the fifth race of the season in Miami, the Mexican’s campaign completely fell apart.

The next five races were five of the nine occasions when he failed to make it through to the final part of qualifying, a completely unacceptable figure given the RB19’s speed advantage, particularly at that stage of the season.

Perez would complain that the car had been developed away from his driving style, but would eventually come under major pressure with a first-corner crash at his home race in Mexico only heightening speculation that Red Bull could choose to replace him a year before the end of his contract.

Ultimately, the fact that he held onto second to secure Red Bull’s first ever one-two in the drivers’ championship, with a relatively consistent finish to the campaign, has likely guaranteed he will at least start the 2024 season as Verstappen’s team-mate.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes: 7.5

Championship position: 3rd – 234 points

Lewis Hamilton pips Max Verstappen to claim a record ninth pole position at the Hungaroring

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Lewis Hamilton pips Max Verstappen to claim a record ninth pole position at the Hungaroring

Lewis Hamilton pips Max Verstappen to claim a record ninth pole position at the Hungaroring

2023 was something of a bounce-back campaign for the seven-time world champion, as he overcame the disappointment of being given another uncompetitive car to largely get the most out of the W14.

Having been notably outscored by George Russell in 2022 in their first season as team-mates, Hamilton dispelled any notion that – at the age of 38 – his powers are waning.

While he has now gone two full seasons without a victory, Hamilton did at least manage to add to his record pole position tally with a memorable lap in Hungary.

After dismissing rumours of a blockbuster switch to Ferrari, Hamilton signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him in the sport until the end of 2025.

While he couldn’t quite chase down Perez for second in the drivers’ standings, Hamilton showed more than enough to suggest that if Mercedes can finally master F1’s current era of design regulations, he is more than capable of challenging Verstappen.

George Russell, Mercedes: 6

Championship position: 8th – 175 points

George Russell crashes out on the final lap of a thrilling Singapore Grand Prix as Carlos Sainz holds on to win, with Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton completing the top three

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George Russell crashes out on the final lap of a thrilling Singapore Grand Prix as Carlos Sainz holds on to win, with Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton completing the top three

George Russell crashes out on the final lap of a thrilling Singapore Grand Prix as Carlos Sainz holds on to win, with Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton completing the top three

Having hardly put a foot wrong in his superb debut campaign with Mercedes, Russell’s 2023 season couldn’t have been in much greater contrast.

While he was rarely far off Hamilton’s pace, a combination of misfortune with reliability and some unnecessary errors saw Russell finish 59 points back from his team-mate.

The Brit’s bold approach is admirable and entertaining but three five-second penalties and a late crash to give up a podium finish in Singapore hinted at some poor decision-making.

Russell did end the season on a positive note, claiming a crucial podium in Abu Dhabi to keep Mercedes ahead of Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.

In 2024, Russell must reaffirm his status as Hamilton’s successor as the leader of the team, with what seemed like a formality 12 months ago not quite so certain now.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari: 7.5

Championship position: 5th – 206 points

Charles Leclerc is on pole after a brilliant performance in Las Vegas, team-mate Carlos Sainz is second in Q3 but will drop down to 12th on the grid due to his penalty

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Charles Leclerc is on pole after a brilliant performance in Las Vegas, team-mate Carlos Sainz is second in Q3 but will drop down to 12th on the grid due to his penalty

Charles Leclerc is on pole after a brilliant performance in Las Vegas, team-mate Carlos Sainz is second in Q3 but will drop down to 12th on the grid due to his penalty

It’s been something of a season of two halves for the Monegasque.

He endured a miserable start with two retirements in the first three races, along with some surprising qualifying struggles, leaving him to play catch up.

Leclerc was second only to Verstappen in claiming five pole positions, with three in a span of four races towards the end of the season providing a reminder of his prodigious one-lap speed.

While Leclerc has a remarkable active streak of 12 starts from pole without a win, he appeared to have every chance of ending it in Las Vegas until an unfortunately timed Safety Car handed the advantage to Red Bull.

Another strong showing in Abu Dhabi rounded off a hugely consistent end to the campaign, which suggested he is ready to take the fight to Verstappen if Ferrari can provide a car capable of challenging.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari: 7.5

Championship position: 7th – 200 points

Carlos Sainz reflects on a hard-fought win in Singapore and thanks Lando Norris for holding the Mercedes off at the end!

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Carlos Sainz reflects on a hard-fought win in Singapore and thanks Lando Norris for holding the Mercedes off at the end!

Carlos Sainz reflects on a hard-fought win in Singapore and thanks Lando Norris for holding the Mercedes off at the end!

The only non-Red Bull driver to win a 2023 race, Sainz produced a campaign that further dispelled the notion that he is merely a solid number two option to Leclerc.

The smooth-operating Spaniard’s win in Singapore was the clear highlight of his season, as he showed incredible race-craft and composure to keep Lando Norris’ McLaren within DRS range behind him to create a buffer to the faster Mercedes cars behind them in the closing stages.

The victory in Singapore came after a second successive pole position, the first of which he converted into a podium finish at Monza following a remarkable late scrap with Leclerc in front of the Tifosi.

Sainz – along with most of the grid – is never going to have the raw pace of the incredibly fast Leclerc, but his ability to manage a race, sometimes overruling questionable calls from the Ferrari pit wall, is proving to be an equaliser.

If there was a criticism it would be that there were a few too many crashes, with a crucial one in Abu Dhabi practice playing a key factor in Ferrari failing to top Mercedes in the constructors’ standings.

Lando Norris, McLaren: 8.5

Championship position: 6th – 205 points

Lando Norris leads the British GP after the opening lap, having overtaken Max Verstappen

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Lando Norris leads the British GP after the opening lap, having overtaken Max Verstappen

Lando Norris leads the British GP after the opening lap, having overtaken Max Verstappen

Somewhat regrettably for Norris, he ends the 2023 season having reinforced his standing as the best driver on the grid without a race win.

Once McLaren sorted out the MCL60 with some major upgrades at the ninth race of the season in Austria, Norris was comfortably the highest points scorer behind Verstappen.

The Brit reeled off seven podiums, with perhaps his most memorable display of the season coming at Silverstone as he took the lead from Verstappen at the start before holding off Hamilton for second in a thrilling battle.

However, he was ultimately left frustrated as a win continued to evade him, regularly chastising himself for failing to produce a perfect lap in qualifying when pole had been there for the taking.

A huge crash in Las Vegas brought his only retirement of the season, but Norris’ campaign left no doubt that it is merely a matter of time until he joins the winners’ circle.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren: 7.5

Championship position: 9th – 97 points

Oscar Piastri holds his nerve to claim his first Sprint win as Max Verstappen finishes second to secure his third world title

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Oscar Piastri holds his nerve to claim his first Sprint win as Max Verstappen finishes second to secure his third world title

Oscar Piastri holds his nerve to claim his first Sprint win as Max Verstappen finishes second to secure his third world title

Adding to Norris’ frustration was the fact that McLaren’s only (Sprint) win of the season came from his rookie team-mate.

Having claimed a first Grand Prix podium a round earlier in Japan, Piastri converted Sprint pole to victory in Qatar to punctuate a very impressive debut campaign.

The fact that the victory came on the same day Verstappen sealed the title may even have suited the understated 22-year-old.

Piastri clearly struggles to match the tyre management on Norris over a full-distance race, and improving in that area should be his main focus during the winter.

However, the fact McLaren extended his contract midway through the season tells you everything you need to know about what the team made of his driving.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin: 8.5

Championship position: 4th – 206 points

Fernando Alonso just pips Sergio Perez to a podium spot after an epic battle in the final stages of the race

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Fernando Alonso just pips Sergio Perez to a podium spot after an epic battle in the final stages of the race

Fernando Alonso just pips Sergio Perez to a podium spot after an epic battle in the final stages of the race

The feel-good story of the season, or at least the first half of it, was Alonso’s return to prominence with Aston Martin.

Many eyebrows were raised when the Spaniard, in a season during which he would turn 42, opted to join the team that had finished seventh in 2022 constructors’ standings.

However, they began the season as Red Bull’s nearest challenger, with Alonso rolling back the years to take six podiums in the first eight races.

He came up agonisingly short in a thrilling pole contest with Verstappen in Monaco, in which victory would have given him an excellent chance of claiming the 33rd Grand Prix win he has waited more than a decade for.

Aston Martin’s failure to match the development of the other front-runners saw Alonso struggle in the latter stages of the season amid a few uncharacteristic errors, but he did have one more trick up his sleeve with an incredible defensive display and last-lap pass on Perez in Brazil sealing an eighth and final podium of the campaign.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin: 5

Championship position: 10th – 74 points

Lance Stroll was furious after a fourth successive Q1 exit in the Aston Martin

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Lance Stroll was furious after a fourth successive Q1 exit in the Aston Martin

Lance Stroll was furious after a fourth successive Q1 exit in the Aston Martin

The Canadian’s remarkable recovery from a pre-season cycling accident to take sixth in Bahrain only added to the positive vibes around the team, but it would be largely downhill from there on Stroll’s side of the garage.

A dismal run of qualifying form saw him make it through to Q3 on just four of 17 occasions, limiting his opportunities to back up Alonso.

While Stroll’s possession of his seat at Aston Martin appears to be unconditional while his father Lawrence remains the team’s owner, his form was so disappointing and his body language so indifferent that he began to be questioned over his desire to remain in the sport.

An unsavoury incident in Qatar where a frustrated Stroll pushed his trainer in the garage after being knocked out in Q1 marked a new low, and led to a warning from the FIA.

However, just when most had written him off, Stroll recorded back-to-back fifth-place finishes in Brazil and Las Vegas to at least provide some positivity going into 2024.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine: 6

Championship position: 11th – 62 points

On-board footage shows Pierre Gasly furious at Alpine team orders after being asked to give team-mate Esteban Ocon his position back on the final lap of the Japanese GP

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On-board footage shows Pierre Gasly furious at Alpine team orders after being asked to give team-mate Esteban Ocon his position back on the final lap of the Japanese GP

On-board footage shows Pierre Gasly furious at Alpine team orders after being asked to give team-mate Esteban Ocon his position back on the final lap of the Japanese GP

It’s hard to view either Alpine driver’s performance outside the prism of a hugely disappointing campaign for the team, which has seen them fall back from last year’s fourth, to sixth in the constructors’ standings.

After losing Alonso and Piastri, Alpine were delighted to pluck Pierre Gasly from the Red Bull driver pool, despite the fact he and his new team-mate Esteban Ocon were known to have a difficult relationship.

Given he had to make the adjustment to a new car, the fact that Gasly has outscored Ocon, albeit marginally, represents something of a success.

The highlight of Gasly’s season came as he claimed a podium in a rain-hit Dutch Grand Prix, once more showing his ability to excel in challenging conditions.

Along with hoping for a more competitive 2024 challenger, Gasly will be out to establish himself as the team’s lead driver.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine: 6

Championship position: 12th – 58 points

Max Verstappen claims his fourth win of 2023 and his 39th win for Red Bull - surpassing Sebastian Vettel's record number of wins for the team

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Max Verstappen claims his fourth win of 2023 and his 39th win for Red Bull – surpassing Sebastian Vettel’s record number of wins for the team

Max Verstappen claims his fourth win of 2023 and his 39th win for Red Bull – surpassing Sebastian Vettel’s record number of wins for the team

Ocon might argue that if it weren’t for his six DNFs, he wouldn’t have been outperformed by Gasly.

He had a couple of fine moments with a podium in Monaco and a fourth-placed finish in Las Vegas, and consistently scored points on a Sunday on the occasions he did see the chequered flag.

However, Ocon’s uncompromising – perhaps sometimes to a fault – driving style continues to rub many of his rivals up the wrong way.

Ultimately, Alpine will hope to produce a car that can give Ocon and Gasly more to think about than battling each other for the final points positions.

Alex Albon, Williams: 8

Championship position: 13th – 27 points

Williams' Alex Albon takes Sky F1's Ted Kravitz on a tour of Bangkok to open a new sports hall for local children, sample some local cuisine and reflect on the highs and lows of his career so far

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Williams’ Alex Albon takes Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz on a tour of Bangkok to open a new sports hall for local children, sample some local cuisine and reflect on the highs and lows of his career so far

Williams’ Alex Albon takes Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz on a tour of Bangkok to open a new sports hall for local children, sample some local cuisine and reflect on the highs and lows of his career so far

The rebuilding of Albon’s career took another big step as he led Williams to a much-improved campaign.

The British-born Thai driver displayed his natural speed with three top-six qualifying displays, but unfortunately didn’t always have a car capable of keeping him in the points-scoring positions.

On almost all of the occasions, the opportunity was there, Albon took it, scoring in seven grands prix, with the only major blemish of his campaign a crash in Australia.

Albon’s performances have caught the eye around the paddock, and Williams will know that they may need to continue to progress to avoid losing the 27-year-old to a more competitive outfit.

Logan Sargeant, Williams: 4.5

Championship position: 21st – 1 point

Logan Sargeant crashes his Williams during Q1 of the Japanese GP causing an emotional response in the garage

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Logan Sargeant crashes his Williams during Q1 of the Japanese GP causing an emotional response in the garage

Logan Sargeant crashes his Williams during Q1 of the Japanese GP causing an emotional response in the garage

It’s been a hugely challenging campaign for the rookie, who has too often been unable to produce under pressure.

It took Sargeant 13 races to reach a Q3, and his first F1 point only came under the rather fortuitous circumstances of both Hamilton and Leclerc being disqualified after the race.

Williams’ and Formula 1’s keenness to have an American driver in the sport means that Sargeant might get a second bite at the cherry in 2024.

A P6 in Las Vegas was easily his best qualifying performance of the campaign, but the positivity from that display was somewhat undone by a careless double breach of track limits a week later in Abu Dhabi.

The 22-year-old must cut out the errors and produce in qualifying more regularly if he is to extend his F1 career beyond 2024.

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri: 7

Championship position: 14th – 17 points

Yuki Tsunoda rants at Lewis Hamilton after missing out on Q2 of the Sao Paulo GP

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Yuki Tsunoda rants at Lewis Hamilton after missing out on Q2 of the Sao Paulo GP

Yuki Tsunoda rants at Lewis Hamilton after missing out on Q2 of the Sao Paulo GP

The Japanese driver has produced a solid campaign, comprehensively outperforming rookie Nyck de Vries in the opening half of the season before the Dutchman was dumped by the team.

Tsunoda has measured up solidly against Daniel Ricciardo since the eight-time race winner joined the team, with the pair generally quite evenly matched.

After AlphaTauri improved their car with late-season upgrades, Tsunoda claimed strong points-scoring finishes in Texas, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

The 23-year-old, who has already amassed 63 Grands Prix appearances, has yet to show the sort of skill to suggest he belongs in the Red Bull senior team alongside Verstappen, but a full 2024 campaign alongside Ricciardo should provide an intriguing measuring stick.

Tsunoda still has areas to improve, with one area he can do so being his temperament, although his emotional responses to the track action have continued to create great entertainment.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri: 7

Championship position: 17th – 6 points

Sky F1's Ted Kravitz reflects on the topsy-turvy story of Daniel Ricciardo's last two years in Formula One

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Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz reflects on the topsy-turvy story of Daniel Ricciardo’s last two years in Formula One

Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz reflects on the topsy-turvy story of Daniel Ricciardo’s last two years in Formula One

Ricciardo’s mid-season return was blighted by an unfortunate accident in Dutch Grand Prix practice that would result in a five-race absence caused by a hand injury, which means we only have a seven Grands Prix sample size from which to assess his season.

There was one standout result in that run, with Ricciardo’s only point-scoring finish coming in Mexico after he took a stunning fourth in qualifying.

That performance showed there is life in the old dog yet after the struggles at McLaren that left him without a seat, but it appears some of his most valuable work may have come off the track.

The AlphaTauri and Red Bull leadership have been effusive in their praise of the feedback Ricciardo has been able to provide on how to improve the car.

2024 is a huge season for both AlphaTauri drivers as they seek to stake a claim what looks set to be a vacant Red Bull seat the following year.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo: 6

Championship position: 15th – 10 points

Valtteri Bottas went off the track in his Alfa Romeo as treacherous conditions made driving tough in the latter part of P2

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Valtteri Bottas went off the track in his Alfa Romeo as treacherous conditions made driving tough in the latter part of P2

Valtteri Bottas went off the track in his Alfa Romeo as treacherous conditions made driving tough in the latter part of P2

The former Mercedes driver’s season started with an encouraging eighth in Bahrain, but there have been few celebratory moments since.

Only three further point-scoring finishes have followed for Bottas, who has made more headlines with his off-track promotional work than he has behind the wheel.

While he has quite comfortably outperformed his team-mate, Bottas would appear to be falling short of doing enough to convince the team’s future owners Audi of keeping him on beyond 2025.

The Finn did show that there are some benefits to all the long-distance cycling he does between races by using his extreme fitness to take eighth in the hugely challenging heat of Qatar.

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo: 6

Championship position: 18th – 6 points

As the heavy rain starts to fall, Sergio Perez and Zhou Guanyu hit the barriers at the Dutch GP

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As the heavy rain starts to fall, Sergio Perez and Zhou Guanyu hit the barriers at the Dutch GP

As the heavy rain starts to fall, Sergio Perez and Zhou Guanyu hit the barriers at the Dutch GP

F1’s first Chinese driver has backed up his rookie season with another competent campaign, but has failed to set the world alight.

He has been disappointing in qualifying, aside from a shock P5 in Hungary, and has consequently left himself with too much to do on a Sunday, with points coming from three ninth-placed finishes, in Australia, Spain and Qatar.

Zhou will have the honour of driving at his home race as the Chinese Grand Prix returns to the calendar, but he is another driver whose long-term future in the sport is currently far from secure.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas: 6.5

Championship position: 16th – 9 points

Max Verstappen secured pole once again at the Canadian Grand Prix, while Nico Hulkenberg claimed a surprise second as Haas will start on the front row for the first time

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Max Verstappen secured pole once again at the Canadian Grand Prix, while Nico Hulkenberg claimed a surprise second as Haas will start on the front row for the first time

Max Verstappen secured pole once again at the Canadian Grand Prix, while Nico Hulkenberg claimed a surprise second as Haas will start on the front row for the first time

On his return to F1, Hulkenberg showed that he has plenty left to give by comprehensively out-classing his team-mate in qualifying.

Unfortunately for the German, Haas’ car was so hard on its tyres that many brilliant displays over one lap came to nothing on race day.

As a result, the 36-year-old didn’t come close to losing his unwanted tag as the F1 driver who has the most starts without a podium.

If Haas can get on top of their tyre issues next year, there will be a better opportunity to assess whether Hulkenberg can still mix it with the best on a Sunday.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas: 5.5

Championship position: 19th – 3 points

Kevin Magnussen brings out the red flag after taking a spin into the barriers during P3 of the Dutch GP - much to the anger of Guenther Steiner

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Kevin Magnussen brings out the red flag after taking a spin into the barriers during P3 of the Dutch GP – much to the anger of Guenther Steiner

Kevin Magnussen brings out the red flag after taking a spin into the barriers during P3 of the Dutch GP – much to the anger of Guenther Steiner

Having looked impressive alongside Mick Schumacher last season, Magnussen struggled to match another veteran in Hulkenberg over one lap.

While he will be disappointed with his qualifying performances, he generally appeared to be up to the task on race day, but simply didn’t have a car capable of scoring points regularly.

Having been given another year in the seat by the ruthless figure that is Guenther Steiner, Magnussen will be under pressure to produce in 2024.

While there was little joy on the track, Magnussen did produce some of the best viral moments of the season as he shared several heart-warming moments before and after races with his toddler daughter.

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri: 4.5

Championship position: 22nd – 0 points

Nyck de Vries spun his AlphaTauri for the second time during Q1 as he continued to struggle in the wet conditions at the Spanish Grand Prix

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Nyck de Vries spun his AlphaTauri for the second time during Q1 as he continued to struggle in the wet conditions at the Spanish Grand Prix

Nyck de Vries spun his AlphaTauri for the second time during Q1 as he continued to struggle in the wet conditions at the Spanish Grand Prix

It just never quite worked out for the not-so-inexperienced rookie.

De Vries failed to take advantage of a big break that came largely as a result of one hugely impressive display for Williams as he stepped in at Monza in 2022.

The AlphaTauri (and Red Bull) hierarchy seemed to quickly begin to regret their decision to put former Mercedes man De Vries in a seat that could have been used for a driver from their own academy.

As the pressure built, the errors kept coming and a decision was taken to let the Dutchman go after just 10 races, without a point to his name.

Liam Lawson, AlphaTauri: 7

Championship position: 20th – 2 points

Making his debut for Alpha Tauri, Liam Lawson battles with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the Dutch GP

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Making his debut for Alpha Tauri, Liam Lawson battles with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the Dutch GP

Making his debut for Alpha Tauri, Liam Lawson battles with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the Dutch GP

This rookie made an impressive impact as he stepped in to replace Daniel Ricciardo for five races.

The New Zealander calmly went about his business, not over-pressing, and was eventually rewarded with a points finish in Singapore.

The late-season cameo has elevated to being one of the first names being talked about for any potential vacancies, with speculation already out there over whether Williams could consider giving him Logan Sargeant’s seat in 2024.

Either way, it seems pretty certain that Lawson will be a permanent fixture on the F1 grid before long.

24 races in 2024! Watch every round of next season live on Sky Sports F1, starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix from February 29-March 2. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW



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Michael van Gerwen produces highest average in Players Championship Finals history

Michael van Gerwen averages a remarkable 118.52 in 6-1 demolition of Ross Smith at Players Championship Finals; we’re back for the World Darts Championship from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports

Last Updated: 26/11/23 8:17am


Michael van Gerwen produced a staggering 118.52 average during his demolition of Ross Smith in Minehead on Saturday

Michael van Gerwen produced the highest average in Players Championship Finals history en route to a showdown with Stephen Bunting in the quarter-finals.

The reigning champion struck a staggering 118.52 average thanks to legs of 10, 18, 12, 11, 12 and 12 darts in his 6-1 second-round demolition of former European Champion Ross Smith.

Van Gerwen was less spectacular in his third-round victory against Mario Vandenbogaerde, despite winning six of the last eight legs to run out a 10-6 winner against the Belgian.

Six weeks after winning his first major darts title, Luke Humphries secured another with victory in the Grand Slam of Darts - could he now go one step further with victory at the World Championships?

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Six weeks after winning his first major darts title, Luke Humphries secured another with victory in the Grand Slam of Darts – could he now go one step further with victory at the World Championships?

Six weeks after winning his first major darts title, Luke Humphries secured another with victory in the Grand Slam of Darts – could he now go one step further with victory at the World Championships?

“When things go well, I know how well I can play,” declared Van Gerwen, who is eyeing his first premier televised ranking title of 2023.

“It is nice to produce a game like this, because you know you’ve got that game in you. You want to show this [type of performance] time after time, but you also need a good opponent!

“It was a battle against Mario, but the most important thing is that I won, and going through to the quarter-finals gives me an extra boost, and I feel good about it.”

Van Gerwen’s last eight opponent will be Stephen Bunting, after the Grand Slam semi-finalist followed up his demolition of Gian van Veen with a 10-8 victory over 2012 runner-up Kim Huybrechts.

Bunting averaged almost 106 and landed a trio of ton-plus finishes to dispatch Dutch star Van Veen, before rallying from 8-7 down to deny the Belgian – aided by five maximums.

However, Van Gerwen remains on a potential collision course with Luke Humphries, who saw off Radek Szaganski and Ryan Searle to maintain his bid for a third televised triumph in seven weeks.

Humphries whitewashed a shell-shocked Szaganski in just nine minutes, averaging 107 and converting all six of his attempts at double.

Humphries and Gary Anderson both showed their finishing power as they hit SEVEN ton-plus checkouts between them in a Grand Slam of Darts quarter-final epic

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Humphries and Gary Anderson both showed their finishing power as they hit SEVEN ton-plus checkouts between them in a Grand Slam of Darts quarter-final epic

Humphries and Gary Anderson both showed their finishing power as they hit SEVEN ton-plus checkouts between them in a Grand Slam of Darts quarter-final epic

The newly crowned World Grand Prix and Grand Slam champion then delivered another ton-topping average against Searle, fending off a late rally from the Somerset star to triumph 10-7.

“Ryan is so underrated. He’s one of the toughest players to beat,” claimed Humphries, having raced into a 6-1 lead before sealing his progress with a 103 average.

“Ryan came back well, but I don’t panic any more. I’ve had a great couple of months, I’m relaxed and I believe in my own ability.

“These are tough days. They require a lot of energy and focus, but I’ve been able to draw on my experience from the European Tour, and I’m hoping I can go all the way again.”

Humphries will renew his rivalry with James Wade in the last eight, after the ten-time TV title winner overcame Steve Lennon and Dimitri Van den Bergh on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, top seed Gerwyn Price suffered a chastening 6-1 defeat to Huybrechts in round two, while 2014 champion Gary Anderson was edged out by Van den Bergh at the same stage of the event.

Leeds United fan Humphries combines his favourite sports by giving the players a darting masterclass

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Leeds United fan Humphries combines his favourite sports by giving the players a darting masterclass

Leeds United fan Humphries combines his favourite sports by giving the players a darting masterclass

The tournament will conclude on Sunday, with the afternoon’s quarter-finals followed by the semi-finals and final later in the evening.

The evening session will also see the PDC World Youth Championship final take place, as emerging Dutchman Gian van Veen takes on teenage sensation Luke Littler for the coveted title.

2023 Players Championship Finals
Saturday November 25
Afternoon Session
Second Round
Main Stage

Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-5 Gary Anderson
Damon Heta 6-4 Kevin Doets
Kim Huybrechts 6-1 Gerwyn Price
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Ross Smith
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Chris Dobey
Luke Humphries 6-0 Radek Szaganski
Jermaine Wattimena 6-5 Richard Veenstra

Stage Two
Stephen Bunting 6-1 Gian van Veen
Ryan Searle 6-3 Ricardo Pietreczko
Mario Vandenbogaerde 6-2 Matt Campbell
Brendan Dolan 6-5 Maik Kuivenhoven
Luke Woodhouse 6-3 Rob Cross
Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Josh Rock
Ryan Joyce 6-4 Joe Cullen
Niels Zonneveld 6-2 Jonny Clayton
James Wade 6-2 Steve Lennon

Evening Session
Third Round
Main Stage

Stephen Bunting 10-8 Kim Huybrechts
Michael van Gerwen 10-6 Mario Vandenbogaerde
Luke Humphries 10-7 Ryan Searle
James Wade 10-6 Dimitri Van den Bergh

Stage Two
Damon Heta 10-8 Brendan Dolan
Luke Woodhouse 10-8 Dave Chisnall
Gabriel Clemens 10-1 Niels Zonneveld
Ryan Joyce 10-7 Jermaine Wattimena

Sunday November 26
Afternoon Session (1245-1700 GMT)
Quarter-Finals

Stephen Bunting vs Michael van Gerwen
Luke Woodhouse vs Gabriel Clemens
James Wade vs Luke Humphries
Damon Heta vs Ryan Joyce
Best of 19 legs

Evening Session (1900-2300 GMT)
Semi-Finals
Bunting/Van Gerwen vs Woodhouse/Clemens
Wade/Humphries vs Heta/Joyce
Best of 21 legs

PDC World Youth Championship Final
Gian van Veen v Luke Littler
Best of 11 legs

Final
Bunting/Van Gerwen/Woodhouse/Clemens vs Wade/Humphries/Heta/Joyce

When is the World Darts Championship?

The World Darts Championship starts on Friday, December 15 - live on Sky Sports!

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The World Darts Championship starts on Friday, December 15 – live on Sky Sports!

The World Darts Championship starts on Friday, December 15 – live on Sky Sports!

The sport’s biggest event will be held from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 as 96 players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace.

You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.

Watch the World Darts Championship from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports. Stream your favourite sports and more with NOW



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Lacey Owen: York Valkyrie and England second row living her rugby dreams and inspiring next generation


Lacey Owen is held aloft by team-mates after York’s Grand Final win over Leeds

Lacey Owen was 11 when she first picked up a rugby ball. Now aged 23, she is a Women’s Super League champion, an England international, and one of the first female rugby league players in the country to sign a professional contract.

The York Valkyrie player’s rise to the top has not been without its challenges though. Growing up in Castleford, she had to get her oval-ball fix outside of a handful of league matches for her school playing club rugby union due to a lack of offerings at the time from community clubs in the area.

Owen turned her hand to other sports such as netball and football as well, but like many in the West Yorkshire town it was rugby league which was her fervent passion, and she has rapidly realised her ambitions since joining Castleford Tigers in the Women’s Super League as a 16-year-old.

“The first time I picked a rugby ball up – maybe it was the adrenaline I got or the fact it was all right to tackle somebody and run at people,” Owen told Sky Sports.

“It’s a bit weird, but I felt like it was a sport I didn’t have to try to be good at, it just came naturally. I’m a very sporty person anyway so usually if I tried something I was good at it, but as soon as I picked a rugby ball up, I knew that was what I wanted to do.

“Since picking a ball up from being in year seven, I’ve never looked back. I’ve tried every other sport you could imagine, but it doesn’t quite suffice for me in the way rugby does.”

Although utilised as a fly-half or outside centre in rugby union, Owen has found her niche as a second row in league and is now aiming to develop those ball-handling and organisational skills utilised in her roles in the 15-a-side code after harnessing her ability to pick a good line.

Owen scored the third try for York Valkyrie in the Betfred Women's Super League Grand Final against Leeds Rhinos.

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Owen scored the third try for York Valkyrie in the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final against Leeds Rhinos.

Owen scored the third try for York Valkyrie in the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final against Leeds Rhinos.

After taking a six-month break from the sport for personal reasons at the end of 2021, Owen followed her former Castleford head coach Lindsay Anfield to York in May last year and has quickly become a mainstay of the Valkyrie pack.

Her form as York secured a first Grand Final triumph last month, beating reigning champions Leeds Rhinos 16-6 at the LNER Community Stadium with Owen among the try-scorers, was rewarded with her earning a first England cap in the end-of-year Test against Wales.

Her international debut off the interchange bench at Headingley saw Owen score a try with one of her first touches in the 60-0 win for the hosts, but perhaps the biggest moment for her this year came when she was one of 20 Valkyrie players to be offered a two-year professional contract.

“It’s unreal women in rugby league have got professional contracts and I’m one of the few women in the country who have got one,” Owen said.

I’m a very sporty person anyway so usually if I tried something I was good at it, but as soon as I picked a rugby ball up, I knew that was what I wanted to do.

Lacey Owen

“It’s a special thing, too. I’m not going to take it for granted next season and it shows how far rugby league has come as a whole, not just the women’s sport, and shows younger girls as well this is something you can achieve and hopefully in a couple of years it will expand.

“I was blown away when I got asked to sign a contract with York because it is a step forward and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted it to be more than a hobby.”

Although now a contracted professional player, Owen will still be combining her rugby commitments with her day-job at her old secondary school Castleford Academy, which means continuing the long days of heading to work a 7.30am and not getting back home until 9pm after training with York.

Not that she is complaining about the sacrifices she has to make though, and Owen is enthused by the growth of the women’s game in her home area which was underlined by four other schools bringing girls teams to Castleford Academy earlier this week for a Wakefield district competition.

Owen made a try-scoring debut for England in the end-of-season win over Wales

Owen made a try-scoring debut for England in the end-of-season win over Wales

Owen has become in demand for shirt presentations and end-of-season awards nights for girls teams too, and is humbled that she is being seen as an inspirational figure for the next generation.

“It’s really nice because I’m a role-model for all these young girls [at school] and I coach three rugby teams, so it’s really nice to see them progressing,” Owen said.

“They asked me lots of questions about it and say ‘Oh, Miss, do you think we’ll be able to do that as our job?’. It’s really nice to hopefully think women will either be able to do it part-time or full-time as a job.

“If we can achieve that working full-time, imagine what we could achieve if we had full-time contracts in the sport.”

York Valkyrie were crowned Women's Super League champions for the first time with a 16-6 Grand Final victory over Leeds Rhinos

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York Valkyrie were crowned Women’s Super League champions for the first time with a 16-6 Grand Final victory over Leeds Rhinos

York Valkyrie were crowned Women’s Super League champions for the first time with a 16-6 Grand Final victory over Leeds Rhinos

The achievements of York’s women in recent seasons have seen them become the city’s leading rugby league lights ahead of the men’s team, the Knights, in the Championship, and Owen is delighted Andrew Henderson’s squad have been fully supportive of their efforts as well.

The Women’s Challenge Cup has so far eluded the Valkyrie though and the aim for the 2024 season is to add that prize to the collection, along with retaining the League Leaders’ Shield and repeating their Grand Final success.

“We’ve done fantastic this year as a club and something we’ve focused on is reaching the pinnacle at the right time,” Owen said. “That’s something we did really well, but now it’s about us being consistent throughout next year.

“I think the treble is on the cards for us next year and we’ve got some great players to hopefully execute that. Obviously, we all know Super League rugby and finals rugby is very different.

“It’s when pressure is applied how we execute next year, but I’ve got us pinned for the treble – I hope so, anyway.”

Watch every match of the 2024 Super League season, including Magic Weekend, the play-offs, and men’s, women’s, and wheelchair Grand Finals, live on Sky Sports. Also stream with NOW.



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Lewis Hamilton says Red Bull chief Christian Horner contacted him over ‘meeting’, following claims of talks

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner claims that Lewis Hamilton’s representatives made contact over a potential switch from Mercedes; watch every session from the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP live on Sky Sports from this Friday at 9.30am, with lights out on Sunday at 1pm

Last Updated: 23/11/23 12:39pm


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Lewis Hamilton says he’s never considered joining Red Bull and is determined to beat them with current team Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton says he’s never considered joining Red Bull and is determined to beat them with current team Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has denied Christian Horner’s claims that he reached out over a potential switch from Mercedes, and says the Red Bull team principal attempted to arrange a meeting with him.

Horner claimed in an interview published on Wednesday that a representative of Hamilton had approached Red Bull earlier this year before the seven-time champion signed his two-year Mercedes contract renewal in August.

After narrowly missing out on a record eighth world championship at the hands of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in 2021, Hamilton has watched the Dutchman make it three titles in a row in a dominant car.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s season-ending Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton told Sky Sports F1: “I don’t really know where that story has come from. I mean I know it’s come from Christian…

“I don’t really understand what he’s been talking about because no one, as far as I’m aware, from my team has spoken to him. I haven’t spoken to Christian really in years.

With rumours suggesting Lewis Hamilton might have joined Red Bull, Max Verstappen says he wouldn't have minded if the seven-time world champion or any other driver raced alongside him as a team-mate

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With rumours suggesting Lewis Hamilton might have joined Red Bull, Max Verstappen says he wouldn’t have minded if the seven-time world champion or any other driver raced alongside him as a team-mate

With rumours suggesting Lewis Hamilton might have joined Red Bull, Max Verstappen says he wouldn’t have minded if the seven-time world champion or any other driver raced alongside him as a team-mate

“However, he did reach out to me earlier on in the year about meeting up, but that’s it. I just congratulated them on an amazing year and said, ‘hopefully soon, I’ll be able to fight against you guys in the near future.’ That was it.

“So I’m not really sure, I think he’s just stirring things.”

In an interview with the Daily Mail Horner had also suggested that Hamilton met with Ferrari chairman John Elkann.

“We have had several conversations over the years about Lewis joining,” Horner said.

“They have reached out a few times. Most recently, earlier in the year, there was an inquiry about whether there would be any interest.

Sky Sports News' Craig Slater discusses reports that a Lewis Hamilton representative spoke with Red Bull chief Christian Horner earlier in the year about a potential move to the team

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Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater discusses reports that a Lewis Hamilton representative spoke with Red Bull chief Christian Horner earlier in the year about a potential move to the team

Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater discusses reports that a Lewis Hamilton representative spoke with Red Bull chief Christian Horner earlier in the year about a potential move to the team

“He met John Elkann (Ferrari chairman), too. I think there were serious talks.

“But I can’t see Max and Lewis working out together. The dynamic wouldn’t be right. We are 100 per cent happy with what we have.”

Ferrari team boss Frederic Vasseur dismissed reports back in May that they had offered Hamilton a big-money deal to defect to the Italian team.

After the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admitted Hamilton needs to “make sure he has the car” to win another championship and would have “no complaints” if the seven-time world champion moved elsewhere in the “next year or two” if the Brackley-based outfit don’t demonstrate a title-winning car.

Look back at some of the most dramatic moments to have taken place at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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Look back at some of the most dramatic moments to have taken place at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Look back at some of the most dramatic moments to have taken place at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Verstappen was asked about the possibility of partnering Hamilton in the future but played down the chances of the prospect.

“I don’t know because it’s not happening. There’s no point to make up stories ‘if, if’. It’s not happening,” said Verstappen.

Pushed more on whether he would want to be his team-mate, the world champion added: “I wouldn’t mind. It doesn’t matter, anyone. I don’t want to put it particularly on Lewis. There are so many great drivers as well. Sometimes it doesn’t work out like that.”

Mercedes label Hamilton and Red Bull talks ‘rather implausible’

Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater:

“I got in touch with Red Bull today and they said yes absolutely Christian Horner stands by this that a known Lewis Hamilton representative made contact with him. They wouldn’t specify how in-depth this contact was particularly. But it did happen.

“The more interesting aspect to all of this, because Lewis has ultimately resigned with Mercedes for another couple of years, he did so in August, and he did speak during the contract negotiation process about not looking anywhere else.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have won the last seven F1 world titles between them

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have won the last seven F1 world titles between them

“So, I did get in touch with Mercedes who tell me they are relaxed; they are not stressed about any of this as far as they see it, they think it’s rather implausible, but it would be in their view due diligence, maybe for a representative of Lewis Hamilton to go and maybe see what else was out there, what future opportunities might potentially be out there, but they’re not taking it particularly seriously.

“It is not in any way a kind of issue between the team and Lewis, even if this did happen, which they’re not convinced that it did. It could even be the case, of course, that Lewis didn’t even know about this this contact necessarily, one insider connected with the team observed to me that, well is this Christian Horner needing to use Lewis’ name to make a few headlines.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Abu Dhabi GP schedule

Friday November 24

  • 7am: F2 Practice
  • 9am: Abu Dhabi GP Practice One (session starts at 9.30am)
  • 10.55pm: F2 Qualifying
  • 12.45pm: Abu Dhabi GP Practice Two (session starts at 1pm)
  • 2.15pm: The F1 Show

Saturday November 25

  • 10.15am: Abu Dhabi GP Practice Three (session starts at 10.30am)
  • 12.15pm: F2 Sprint
  • 1.15pm: Abu Dhabi GP Qualifying build-up
  • 2pm: Abu Dhabi GP Qualifying
  • 4pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Sunday November 26

  • 9.10am: F2 Feature Race
  • 11.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Abu Dhabi GP build-up
  • 1pm: The ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX
  • 3pm: Chequered Flag: Abu Dhabi GP reaction
  • 4pm: Ted’s Notebook

After the thrills of Las Vegas, Formula 1 heads to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit for the 2023 season finale and another stunning spectacle under the lights. Watch the Abu Dhabi weekend live on Sky Sports F1, with lights out on Sunday at 1pm. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW



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2023 NFL fantasy football waiver wire: Isaiah Likely could see increased role after Mark Andrews injury

The Green Bay Packers (4-6) and Detroit Lions (8-2) kick off a Thanksgiving triple-header live on Sky Sports from 5.30pm this Thursday, followed by the Washington Commanders (4-7) against the Dallas Cowboys (7-3) and the San Francisco 49ers (7-3) against the Seattle Seahawks (6-4).

Last Updated: 21/11/23 10:15am


Baltimore Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely

Ahead of Week 12 in the NFL, we explore some of the top fantasy football waiver options around the league…

Isaiah Likely, TE, Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson lost his most trusted target last week as Ravens tight end Mark Andrews suffered what is believed to be a season-ending ankle injury in Baltimore’s victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. It opens a void on Todd Monken’s offense, potentially paving the way for Isaiah Likely to take on a more expanded role over the second half of the regular season.

Highlights of the Cincinnati Bengals against the Baltimore Ravens from Week 11 of the NFL

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Highlights of the Cincinnati Bengals against the Baltimore Ravens from Week 11 of the NFL

Highlights of the Cincinnati Bengals against the Baltimore Ravens from Week 11 of the NFL

The second-year fourth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina flashed signs of what he could offer when given a full-time role in his rookie season, closing out the campaign with eight catches for 103 yards against the Bengals and posting at least eight points on the five occasions he had five or more receptions. He has just nine catches for 89 yards in 2023, though heads into a matchup with a Los Angeles Chargers defense ranked 30th against tight ends in fantasy this season.

The minimally-rostered Odell Beckham Jr can also be taken into consideration where available having just produced his first 100-yard game of the season and combined for 212 yards and two touchdowns over the last three outings.

Zach Charbonnet, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Kenneth Walker left Seattle’s defeat to the Los Angeles Rams with an oblique injury on Sunday, head coach Pete Carroll, though, suggesting injured reserve may not be necessary for the Seahawks running back. The injury is expected to amount to more action for second-round rookie Zach Charbonnet over the coming weeks.

The former UCLA man came in to carry the ball 15 times for 47 yards and catch all six of his targets for 22 yards to collect 12.9 points in Week 11, following up 10.2 points the following week after 62 yards from scrimmage against the Washington Commanders. With that said, his next four weeks include two meetings with the San Francisco 49ers’ third-ranked run defense, the Philadelphia Eagles’ first-ranked run defense and a Dallas Cowboys defense ranked first in total yards.

Highlights of the Seattle Seahawks against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 11 of the NFL season

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Highlights of the Seattle Seahawks against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 11 of the NFL season

Highlights of the Seattle Seahawks against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 11 of the NFL season

Demario Douglas, WR, New England Patriots

The New England Patriots offense remains a mess, but in sixth-round rookie receiver Demario Douglas has come a rare, if minimal, bright spot over recent weeks. Douglas caught six of his nine targets for 84 yards and 14.4 fantasy points in his side’s defeat to the Indianapolis Colts in Germany, having put up five receptions for 55 yards and 10.5 points in the loss to Washington the week before.

Without competition being stiff, he has emerged as the Patriots’ leading receiver following injury to Kendrick Bourne and could soon find himself playing with a new quarterback should Bill Belichick opt to move from Mac Jones to Bailey Zappe over the second half of the season.

Jayden Reed, WR, Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers believe they have found a long-term building block for their youthful offense in second-round rookie Jayden Reed, who has asserted himself as one of Jordan Love’s most productive weapons across the team’s 4-6 start to the season. Reed contributed 92 yards and a touchdown from scrimmage to register 19.2 points during Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Chargers. It marked his second 19-point game in as many weeks after he caught all five of his targets for 84 yards and a score against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Highlights of the Los Angeles Chargers against the Green Bay Packers in Week 11 of the NFL season

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Highlights of the Los Angeles Chargers against the Green Bay Packers in Week 11 of the NFL season

Highlights of the Los Angeles Chargers against the Green Bay Packers in Week 11 of the NFL season

He has become a key multi-purpose asset to Matt LaFleur’s motion-friendly system, with his yards-after-catch ability seeing him feature as an end-around option across the backfield. He has hit double figures in fantasy points in six games this season heading into Thursday’s Thanksgiving matchup with the Detroit Lions.

Desmond Ridder, QB, Atlanta Falcons

For the purpose of throwing a quarterback option in here, how about Desmond Ridder? The Atlanta Falcons are handing the starting job back to the 2022 third-round pick for this week’s matchup with the New Orleans Saints after momentarily riding with Taylor Heinicke in response to Ridder’s turnover issues. Interceptions have been his downfall, but Ridder remains a handy fantasy option with 150 rushing yards and four touchdowns this year having also averaged 7.1 yards per attempt.

The former Cincinnati play-caller has two 300-plus yard games on the season and has surpassed 20 points in fantasy on two occasions, though faces three of the league’s better defenses in the Saints, New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the next three weeks.

Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Hello, Rondale Moore! We all remember Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon making missile sounds upon his awkward first interaction with the speedy wide receiver this past offseason; on Sunday we saw those ‘explosives’ come to fruition as Moore hauled in a 48-yard touchdown against the Houston Texans.

Cardinals fans have been crying out for some more downfield action for the 2021 second-round pick, who has predominantly been treated as a yards-after-catch chess piece around the line of scrimmage since entering the league out of Purdue. Sunday’s end zone grab was a welcome reminder of what 4.3 speed can do in an expanded route tree, particularly with Kyler Murray’s arm back under center.

It followed up five catches for 43 yards against the Atlanta Falcons, while combining with an increase in production for tight end Trey McBride, in hinting at an up-turn for this Cardinals offense following Murray’s return. Moore’s NFL career is yet to truly light up; how he finishes this season will be intriguing as the Cardinals look to find some answers as to how they approach their offseason.

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Justin Herbert and Los Angeles Chargers face familiar pain with time running out for Brandon Staley


Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley

Justin Herbert’s time is being wasted and Brandon Staley’s time is almost up as the Los Angeles Chargers swallow another painfully familiar dose of one-score torment. The NFL’s festive period has begun, and so too the countdown for some of the league’s most under-pressure figures.

The Chargers could be likened to the friend that turns up at five-a-side sporting Copa Mundials, with a hairband on, sock tape hugging their next-to-non-existent shin-pads and black Nike gloves to top off the ensemble. The optics point to a gifted technician, until they sky the five-yard gimme teed up by the Justin Herbert of the team following a marauding run during which he has slalomed beyond three defenders.

For the fifth time this season they came out second-best in a one-score game as they were beaten 23-20 by the Green Bay Packers, another blunder-stricken performance dropping them to 4-6 and shoving the playoffs further out of their flailing reach. Herbert has now suffered a quarterback-high 22 one-score defeats since entering the league in 2020 as the sixth overall pick.

Game-on-the-line mistakes were made, Staley was spikey in his press conference and even the most mellow Herbert could hide his frustration no longer as he slammed the ball into the ground after a delay of game penalty with his team trailing in the fourth quarter.

The Chargers aced the task of finding their franchise quarterback to succeed Philip Rivers while others around the league have hopped aimlessly between make-shift solutions and ill-guided decisions. Four seasons later, their record with Herbert is a measly 29-30 and on course for consisting of just one 10-win campaign.

Highlights of the Los Angeles Chargers against the Green Bay Packers in Week 11 of the NFL season.

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Highlights of the Los Angeles Chargers against the Green Bay Packers in Week 11 of the NFL season.

Highlights of the Los Angeles Chargers against the Green Bay Packers in Week 11 of the NFL season.

Quentin Johnston had the chance to be the hero on the final drive of the game when he bought himself two strides of separation on a sideline fade, Herbert rotating his hips and gliding a cross-field dagger into the path of his teammate, only for the rookie wide receiver to let it slip through his fingers. He would have been home free for the touchdown to win it.

Keenan Allen had been sucked into his team’s error-prone ways earlier in the game when he dropped an easy catch at the goalline, while Austin Ekeler was guilty of fumbling at the Packers’ two-yard line. And having left Green Bay staring at third-and-20 while trailing 20-16 with four minutes to play, the Chargers gifted the hosts a new set of downs when Asante Samuel Jr was flagged for pass interference on Dontayvion Wicks, who moments later bounced off two weak tackle attempts to race away for 35 yards and help tee up Romeo Doubs’ 24-yard game-winning touchdown. Chargers epitome.

“Everybody is squeezing the club too tight,” said former NFL head coach Jason Garrett on Sunday Night Football later in the evening.

Staley will be the one to pay the price. He had moved next door from the Rams to the Chargers in 2021 shimmering as one of the league’s most eloquent and innovative defensive minds, branching from the Vic Fangio tree accredited to the modern NFL’s most prominent scheme. Staley was all about inviting the run with light boxes, dropping two high safeties and rotating coverages post-snap as a means to fogging the field read of the NFL’s top young quarterbacks while challenging them to rein in their aggression in favour of patient, slow-burning drives. Of course, the results would be different without an Aaron Donald with whom to clobber up front.

It will be his famed defensive DNA and its ensuing downfall with one of the league’s most expensive units that goes down as the story of Staley’s time in charge, punctuated by the one-score margins they could not lean their way and a blown 27-point lead against the Jacksonville Jaguars in last season’s playoffs that continues to linger with a bitter after-taste. Even if it wasn’t the defining hindrance on Sunday.

Since Staley’s arrival the Chargers defense ranks 28th in EPA/play (expected points added) having allowed a third-most points per game in that time. They sit 31st in total yards allowed in 2023, last against the pass, 25th in scoring and bottom 10 in pressure rate. They have also now shipped 957 yards of offense over the last two games following last week’s 41-38 loss to the Detroit Lions.

Jordan Love recorded his first 300-yard passing game in the NFL, and the Packers put up more than 20 points for just the third time this season. With Samuel’s PI call, the Chargers have now allowed teams to convert on third-and-15-plus on six occasions this season. To add to matters, star pass rusher Joey Bosa was carted off in tears with a foot injury.

Any cracks that might have already been there appeared to have widened in his post-game press conference when Staley passionately defended his play-calling duties.

“I have full confidence in our way of playing,” said Staley. “Full confidence in myself as the play-caller and the way that we teach and the way that we scheme. Full confidence in that. We’ve got to bring this group together and do it consistently and that’s where it’s at. You can stop asking that question. I’m going to be calling the defenses, so we’re clear. So you don’t have to ask that again.”

Staley had not taken kindly to a question earlier this season over whether the memory of their post-season collapse was continuing to have a lasting impact on the team. The, perhaps unjust, reality being that one or two icy moments with the media will ultimately outweigh what had been refreshing outlooks on fourth-down analytics and aggression, and the gravity of an efficient running game that touted an intriguing mind to lead the Herbert era early on his tenure.

But the Patrick Mahomes effect is real. Teams fortunate enough to find their stalwart quarterbacks are terrified of squandering some of their finest years or setting back their development or falling behind the pack amid a time of AFC disparity.

With Herbert comes a weekly supply of the impossible, that must no longer go unrewarded. He crams passes into the tightest of slits and torpedoes sturdy coverage by way of supreme accuracy and the most venomous zip of any quarterback in the league (see his touchdown pass to Allen on Sunday). Hash-to-field-side cross-body heaves are customary to an arm that need not obey the high school equivalent of ‘don’t pass across your own penalty area’, as are the tilt-and-flick daggers to find open men from skewed off-platform launch points and the back-foot dunks to defy pocket pressure. Herbert should be going toe to toe with Josh Allen, Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence every postseason; his untapped upside will force the Chargers’ hand with Staley in January.

Highlights of the Detroit Lions against the Los Angeles Chargers from Week 10 of the NFL.

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Highlights of the Detroit Lions against the Los Angeles Chargers from Week 10 of the NFL.

Highlights of the Detroit Lions against the Los Angeles Chargers from Week 10 of the NFL.

Decisions are to be made, and decisions should have already been made, across the league. The New York Jets neglected to decide that moving forward with Zach Wilson in the absence of Aaron Rodgers would waste an entire season of their Championship-calibre defense. The Pittsburgh Steelers must decide that an offense led by Kenny Pickett, who has thrown two touchdowns passes since the start of October, is holding back an upper-tier defense led by Hall of Fame-bound pass rusher TJ Watt.

David Tepper, consumed by the fear or quarterback purgatory since Cam Newton, must decide how patient he will allow himself to be with Frank Reich and Bryce Young amid uneasy murmurs of back-room division over the No 1 pick in Carolina. The new owners of the Washington Commanders must decide whether they wish to start afresh with a new head coach to replace Ron Rivera, whose team are 4-7 and just shipped three touchdowns to still-lives-with-his-parents New York Giants third-string quarterback Tommy DeVito.

Staley is a bright and brilliant footballing mind whose eye for defensive intricacies has made for to-be-admired clinics, but far too infrequently with the Chargers. Herbert’s talent dictates soaring expectations, and Staley looks like he will take the fall for the splintered progress.



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