Thomas issues grovelling apology after having fan ejected

American Justin Thomas will be relieved he’s playing outside his homeland this week after suffering a backlash on social media for getting a fan ejected during his victory at the Honda Classic in Florida on Sunday.

The 24-year-old had been vocal in the build-up about what he considered ‘unacceptable’ fan behaviour – and duly discovered, like Colin Montgomerie and others before him, that’s the worst thing you can do, as one spectator started heckling him openly during the final round.

It led to Thomas confronting the fan and asking for him to be removed. Plenty of people, however, thought Thomas had crossed a line himself, since the spectator didn’t try to put him off while he was playing.

Justin Thomas suffered a backlash for getting a fan ejected during his win at the Honda Classic

Justin Thomas suffered a backlash for getting a fan ejected during his win at the Honda Classic

Justin Thomas suffered a backlash for getting a fan ejected during his win at the Honda Classic

The American issued a grovelling apology on Tuesday, confessing he had 'overreacted'

The American issued a grovelling apology on Tuesday, confessing he had 'overreacted'

The American issued a grovelling apology on Tuesday, confessing he had ‘overreacted’

In an effort to move on, Thomas issued a grovelling apology on Tuesday, confessing he had ‘overreacted,’ and adding that he ‘felt bad for having him kicked out.’ 

Given he was claiming a phenomenal seventh title in his last 31 starts, the last thing the USPGA Champion needs is an ongoing distraction, and perhaps it’s as well the scene has moved to Central America for the first of the four big money events each year that come under the World Golf Championship umbrella – the WGC-Mexico Championship.

This was the event where Tommy Fleetwood catapulted himself on to the world stage last year in finishing runner-up to Dustin Johnson. 

Now up to 11th in the world and needing one more good week to replace Rory McIlroy in the top ten, the experience of Europe’s Player of the Year last season in Florida offered a stark contrast to that of his American equivalent, Thomas.

Thomas had been vocal in the build-up about what he considered 'unacceptable' fan behaviour

Thomas had been vocal in the build-up about what he considered 'unacceptable' fan behaviour

Thomas had been vocal in the build-up about what he considered ‘unacceptable’ fan behaviour

Tommy Fleetwood is up to 11th in the world and needs one good week to move into the top ten

Tommy Fleetwood is up to 11th in the world and needs one good week to move into the top ten

Tommy Fleetwood is up to 11th in the world and needs one good week to move into the top ten

‘The welcome I got was really amazing, and I can’t thank the fans enough,’ said Fleetwood, who finished fourth in just his second event as a PGA Tour member to continue his own impressive start to the season.

Meanwhile, fellow Englishman Chris Paisley is hoping to follow in Fleetwood’s footsteps after gaining his first WGC start courtesy of his maiden victory in the South African Open in January.

‘I know Tommy built on the confidence he had from having a similar win to mine in Abu Dhabi to do so well in Mexico and that is certainly inspirational for me,’ said the 31-year-old from Hexham. 

‘I’ve known Tommy since England amateur days, when he was so good he used to kick all our backsides. He’s still at it now!’

 

Robin Goodfellow’s racing tips: Best bets for March 1

Sam Turner For The Daily Mail

Sportsmail’s racing expert Robin Goodfellow dishes out his tips ahead of Thursday’s meetings at Kempton and Newcastle. 

Sportsmail's racing expert Robin Goodfellow dishes out his tips ahead of Thursday's meetings

Sportsmail's racing expert Robin Goodfellow dishes out his tips ahead of Thursday's meetings

Sportsmail’s racing expert Robin Goodfellow dishes out his tips ahead of Thursday’s meetings

NEWCASTLE

 Robin Goodfellow 

1.50 Leodis

2.20 Desert Ruler

2.55 Natch

3.30 Henpecked

4.05 Made Of Honour

4.40 Arnarson

5.15 Rosina (nb)

 Gimcrack 

1.50 Katie Gale

2.20 Desert Ruler

2.55 Yabass

3.30 Cadeau Magnifique

4.05 Made Of Honour

4.40 Right Action

5.15 Rosina

KEMPTON

 Robin Goodfellow

5.55 Montague

6.30 New Rich

7.00 White Desert

7.30 Gronkowski

8.00 Arsenio Lupin

8.30 World Of Good

9.00 Mezmaar (nap)

Gimcrack

5.55 Section Onesixsix

6.30 New Rich

7.00 White Desert

7.30 Gronkowski (nap)

8.00 Arsenio Lupin (nb)

8.30 Mister Freeze

9.00 Viola Park

 

Andy Murray is close to a comeback after hip surgery

Andy Murray will begin practising again later this month and is sufficiently optimistic about his recovery from hip surgery that he could even return ahead of schedule.

Murray, 30, has always targeted the main part of the grass-court season for his comeback. The Scot had surgery on January 8 to try to fix a problem that has kept him out of the game since Wimbledon.

According to his management company, Murray has not ruled out returning before then — if all goes to plan once he has resumed hitting balls.

Andy Murray could return ahead of schedule after having hip surgery back on January 8

Andy Murray could return ahead of schedule after having hip surgery back on January 8

Andy Murray could return ahead of schedule after having hip surgery back on January 8

The 30-year-old Scot had surgery to treat a problem that has kept him out since Wimbledon

The 30-year-old Scot had surgery to treat a problem that has kept him out since Wimbledon

The 30-year-old Scot had surgery to treat a problem that has kept him out since Wimbledon

He could play a smaller event before the traditional Queen’s Club tournament, formerly the Aegon Championships. It is believed that the event has lined up a new sponsor to be revealed in the next month.

Two possibilities for Murray would be the Challenger event at Surbiton during the second week of the French Open in early June, and the ATP Tour event on grass at Stuttgart which follows it.

The French Open in late May still looks a very long shot. Murray has never found the transition from clay to grass very easy, even when fully fit.

Murray, who on Monday will drop out of the world’s top 25 and be overtaken by Kyle Edmund as the British No 1, took a holiday after January’s trip to Australia.

The ex-world No 1 could play a smaller event before the traditional Queen¿s Club tournament

The ex-world No 1 could play a smaller event before the traditional Queen¿s Club tournament

The ex-world No 1 could play a smaller event before the traditional Queen’s Club tournament

That began with him planning to play the Brisbane Open and ended with him recuperating after surgery in Melbourne.

He is now back in the gym lifting weights, doing pilates and using the Versaclimber — a testing piece of apparatus which simulates the effect of climbing a never-ending ladder.

He is already planning to go away for some warm-weather training later this month, quite possibly to Miami.

Murray owns an apartment there and, as it would be during the Miami Open, there will be no shortage of high-class sparring partners in town.

Comebacks are the talk of tennis, with Serena Williams expected to return next week at Indian Wells in California.

Rafael Nadal is  troubled by knee problems and withdrew from this week¿s ATP Tour tournament

Rafael Nadal is  troubled by knee problems and withdrew from this week¿s ATP Tour tournament

Rafael Nadal is troubled by knee problems and withdrew from this week’s ATP Tour tournament

Rafael Nadal, however, is a doubt for the first Masters event of the season. He continues to be troubled by knee problems and made a late withdrawal from this week’s ATP Tour tournament in Acapulco.

Lower down the scale, former British No 2 Dan Evans is another on the comeback trail, with his ban for cocaine use expiring in the last week of April.

Under the terms of his suspension Evans is allowed to use official training facilities, in this case those of the Lawn Tennis Association, for two months before returning to competition, and that window has opened.

He is due to meet British Davis Cup captain Leon Smith this week to discuss a plan for him to get up to speed in time to resume playing at the lowly Futures tier of the tour.

Pep Guardiola ready to ditch yellow ribbon for Man City

  • Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City are more important than his yellow ribbon
  • Guardiola has worn the political symbol in support of jailed Catalan politicians
  • He faces a fine from the FA and risks a touchline ban if he continues to wear it 

Jack Gaughan for MailOnline

Pep Guardiola will not allow his personal views to ‘damage’ Manchester City, and is prepared to stop wearing a yellow ribbon in support of jailed Catalan politicians.

Guardiola has been charged by the FA for making a political statement having twice ignored formal warnings to stop displaying the ribbon on the touchline.

The City boss has until Monday to respond to the charge and confirmed on Wednesday that he will write to the FA personally to explain his position on the matter.

Pep Guardiola wears a yellow ribbon during Manchester City's victory over Arsenal on Sunday

Pep Guardiola wears a yellow ribbon during Manchester City's victory over Arsenal on Sunday

Pep Guardiola wears a yellow ribbon during Manchester City’s victory over Arsenal on Sunday

Guardiola faces a fine on this occasion but could be banned from the touchline if he continues to commit the same offence.

He wore the ribbon in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final win over Arsenal, and it remains to be seen if he does so again when the two teams meet in the Premier League at the Emirates on Thursday night.

Asked if he would stop when the threat of a ban became detrimental to his team, Guardiola replied: ‘Of course, I don’t want to damage my team or club. They know my opinion, it’s simple like that.

The Manchester City boss ignored the FA's warning and continued to sport the yellow ribbon 

The Manchester City boss ignored the FA's warning and continued to sport the yellow ribbon 

The Manchester City boss ignored the FA’s warning and continued to sport the yellow ribbon 

Guardiola plans to send a letter to the FA to 'explain our position' on wearing his yellow ribbon

Guardiola plans to send a letter to the FA to 'explain our position' on wearing his yellow ribbon

Guardiola plans to send a letter to the FA to ‘explain our position’ on wearing his yellow ribbon

‘It’s more important what is happening with the team and the club than my personal opinion.

‘I am open to talking to the FA. I am going to write a letter to explain our position.’ 

The 47-year-old insists that his protest in support of two former Catalan politicians and two separatist leaders who remain in jail is humanitarian rather than political, and therefore no different to wearing an emblem in support of AIDS or cancer.

He added: ‘My personal opinion is not a political opinion. It’s for the people who say it’s not right to have four people in jail.’

He was charged for promoting a political message in support of Catalan independence

He was charged for promoting a political message in support of Catalan independence

He was charged for promoting a political message in support of Catalan independence

Aston Villa defender Richards is 500 days without a game

Once hailed the best young defender in the country, Micah Richards has won 13 England caps, a Premier League title, and the FA Cup.

He made Champions League appearances with Manchester City, and has memories of representing Great Britain at the London Olympics. He once turned down Manchester United and Chelsea, and at 29 has seasons ahead of him.

But on Tuesday he passed a remarkable 500 days since his last competitive game for Aston Villa. His £35,000-per-week contract at the Championship club does not run out until 2019. So how has it come to this?

Micah Richards is desperate and fit to play for Aston Villa but is 500 days without a game

Micah Richards is desperate and fit to play for Aston Villa but is 500 days without a game

Micah Richards is desperate and fit to play for Aston Villa but is 500 days without a game

For a player of his experience and ability it is a highly peculiar situation. Injuries have been a factor but the defender has, for the majority, been fit and desperate to play.

October 15, 2016, was the last time Richards did so competitively. He started Steve Bruce’s first game in charge against Wolves, but went off with a calf problem in the 66th minute, and 73 Villa matches have subsequently come and gone without his involvement.

The reasons are manifold but the crux at present is that Bruce does not totally trust Richards to physically cope with two games in a week and has therefore decided against using him at all so the rhythm of his team is maintained.

Richards has a long-standing meniscus issue in his right knee – it has become swollen through exercise in the past – but sources close to the player insist the same was true of Ledley King for a number of his peak years and managed well it would not cause impediment to regular action.

Richards trains fully each day with the first-team but were he to have games to prepare for the sessions could be tailored accordingly. 

Instead he keeps turning up at Bodymoor Heath, undertaking all that is asked of him, yet knowing his name will not feature on the teamsheet when the meaningful action takes place.

The former FA Cup and Premier League winner was once hailed England's best young defender

The former FA Cup and Premier League winner was once hailed England's best young defender

The former FA Cup and Premier League winner was once hailed England’s best young defender

Consistent injury problems halted his career and he has since become a ghost at Villa Park

On Saturday, as Villa players celebrated a thrilling 4-2 win at Sheffield Wednesday that reignited ambitions for automatic promotion, Richards was not in the picture, keeping up with the score away from Hillsborough.

It is a difficult space to occupy mentally, yet club insiders insist the bubbly personality we first saw when Richards excitedly swore on live television after scoring his first senior goal aged 17 – a last-gasp equaliser for City at Villa – remains.

He has given advice and encouragement to Villa’s emerging players, such as Keinan Davis, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, Andre Green, Corey Blackett-Taylor, and Callum O’Hare. Jack Grealish has also received words of wisdom.

A well-travelled source praised Richards for being 'the nicest player' he has worked with

A well-travelled source praised Richards for being 'the nicest player' he has worked with

A well-travelled source praised Richards for being ‘the nicest player’ he has worked with

A well-travelled source said: ‘He’s probably the nicest player I’ve worked with, the staff love him. He is very popular, and always has a smile on his face.’

But Richards is more than the joker to keep spirits up. The competitive edge that saw him rise through City’s academy is also still intact and while it is important to stress there has been no bust-up with Bruce, strong conversations have taken place.

Richards understands it is of course Bruce’s prerogative to pick whichever team he deems best, and Villa’s position in the table is evidence of his judgement, but Sportsmail can reveal that twice in this campaign particular pressure moments have prompted personal meetings between manager and player.

One came when Richards sought answers after being left out of August’s Carabao Cup win over Wigan – when other fringe players were given a shop window to perform ahead of transfer deadline day. For the visit of Middlesbrough in the next round, Richards, who can operate at right-back or centre-back, made his only squad appearance of the season. But he remained on the bench as Bruce picked Ritchie De Laet, Christopher Samba, Alan Hutton, and Tommy Elphick instead.

Villa boss Steve Bruce has held meetings with the defender on at least two occasions this term

Villa boss Steve Bruce has held meetings with the defender on at least two occasions this term

Villa boss Steve Bruce has held meetings with the defender on at least two occasions this term

That in part prompted another meeting in late autumn after Richards had featured in a number of behind-closed-doors friendlies. Richards felt it tough to commit to such training ground games when first-team chances appeared non-existent and Bruce, a reasonable man, agreed to call a halt to them.

But there was no reprieve when Bruce made 10 changes for January’s FA Cup tie against Peterborough and Richards was not among them. Sportsmail understands there isn’t an economic cause for the defender’s continued absence, such as to guard against hefty appearances fees with Financial Fair Play regulations gripping tightly. Ultimately, it just seems Villa’s manager does not rate Richards enough to work through the knee issue.

‘Micah is an absolute stick-on if he’s fit,’ said Bruce last February. ‘He’s got the right mentality.’ But opinions shift and it appears Bruce now is in the same camp as those at City who felt Richards lost a little of his athletic edge through age. 

The 29-year-old hasn't made a first team appearance for Villa since October 15, 2016

The 29-year-old hasn't made a first team appearance for Villa since October 15, 2016

The 29-year-old hasn’t made a first team appearance for Villa since October 15, 2016

Richards was an integral member of Roberto Mancini’s title-winning side – playing 37 games in all competitions that season – and would regularly deliver recovery tackles to rouse supporters. Those who coached him wondered though if those moments made up for small tactical deficiencies that became apparent later.

City moved on as a club but Tim Sherwood certainly saw Richards’ value when securing his signing on a free transfer in summer 2015. Confidence came from an opening day 1-0 win at Bournemouth.

A desperate relegation followed, however, and some Villa fans still associate that hurt with Richards, who was made captain following the departure of Fabian Delph to City. In fairness, there were much more culpable villains than he that campaign.

To those who argue Richards should have left the club before now, Sportsmail can reveal that Roberto Di Matteo’s intervention blocked a move to West Ham in the summer of 2016.

West Ham were willing to pay Richards double his relegation-slashed wage for a season-long loan with a view to a permanent move, but Villa’s then manager wanted him as back-up for Elphick and Nathan Baker. That now looks a costly call for all involved.

Despite his inactivity, his wage will double should Bruce's Villa gain Premier League promotion

Despite his inactivity, his wage will double should Bruce's Villa gain Premier League promotion

Despite his inactivity, his wage will double should Bruce’s Villa gain Premier League promotion

There was interest from Orlando in January 2017 but two transfer windows have now passed without significant interest from a side Richards would entertain and it is unclear where club and player go from here.

By joining Fiorentina on loan in 2014, Richards has shown he is not afraid of making a bold move to get games but such is his salary it might require an agreement with Villa’s hierarchy over his remaining deal.

Villa’s top earners, such as John Terry, are thought to take home 70 per cent more than Richards, but in an ironic twist his wage would almost double back to original Premier League levels were Bruce’s team to gain promotion. Summer talks are planned.

In the meantime Richards will uphold his professionalism, persevere with his positive attitude, and maintain a love for the game that has not cooled despite all this time spent in deep freeze.

Booze fears for England fans with football special trains

  • World Cup organisers will offer fans free travel between games on trains
  • The offer will be given to those with tickets due to limited capacity to fly them
  • The 20-hour ‘football special’ trains pose a major risk of alcohol-related disorder
  • There will be a high security presence on these trains with Russian officers determined to confine most drinking to designated fan zones
  • However, trips across the vast nation of Russia constitutes a risk of disorder

Ian Herbert For The Daily Mail

England fans will be enticed on to 20-hour ‘football special’ trains between World Cup venues this summer, in a move which appears to pose a major risk of alcohol-related disorder.

With limited capacity to fly fans between group-stage venues, organisers will seek to tempt them to make long-distance train trips by offering free travel for those with tickets. 

There will be a high security presence on the trains, with Russian officers determined to confine most drinking to designated fan zones. But trips across the vast nation constitute a risk of disorder.

England fans will be enticed on to 20-hour 'football special' trains between World Cup venues

England fans will be enticed on to 20-hour 'football special' trains between World Cup venues

England fans will be enticed on to 20-hour ‘football special’ trains between World Cup venues

The journey from Volgograd, where England play Tunisia on June 18, to Nizhny Novgorod, where Panama lie in wait six days later, entails journeying north west into Moscow and out again to the east.

Kaliningrad, where England face Belgium four days later, is another huge trip west by train, through Belarus and Lithuania. Both journeys will take around 20 hours.

The move by the organisers to offer free travel on trains poses a major alcohol-related disorder

The move by the organisers to offer free travel on trains poses a major alcohol-related disorder

The move by the organisers to offer free travel on trains poses a major alcohol-related disorder

Russia police chief Andrey Zakharov said: ‘According to Russian law, it’s OK to drink as long as you don’t disturb public order. If there are any violations of public order, the police will have to respond.’

Senior British officers are urging England fans to refrain from nationalistic singing in Russia. They believe disrespectful behaviour could cause a backlash, even though Russian gangs will be becalmed by the threat of long jail terms.

High security will be on the trains, with Russian officers keen to confine drinking to fan zones

High security will be on the trains, with Russian officers keen to confine drinking to fan zones

High security will be on the trains, with Russian officers keen to confine drinking to fan zones

Premier League greatest ever hat-tricks: 20-11

SPORTSMAIL’S TOP 50 PREMIER LEAGUE HAT-TRICKS COUNTDOWN 

Arsenal icon Thierry Henry is one of six players to have scored eight or more Premier League hat-tricks.

And one of those fine trios is the 13th best ever, according to DAN RIPLEY who continues the countdown in Sportmail’s top 50 Premier League hat-trick series.

In this 20-11 segment, we also remember fine efforts by Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney, Tottenham Hotspur favourite Jurgen Klinsmann and the man who Henry replaced as Arsenal’s record marksman, Ian Wright.

Thierry Henry makes an appearance as Sportsmail's search for the best PL hat-trick continues

Thierry Henry makes an appearance as Sportsmail's search for the best PL hat-trick continues

Thierry Henry makes an appearance as Sportsmail’s search for the best PL hat-trick continues

20. Steven Naismith (EVERTON 3-1 Chelsea) — September 12, 2015

When this game kicked off one of the last things you could think of happening was Steven Naismith scoring a perfect hat-trick.

It wasn’t just because he had not scored a Premier League goal all season, nor that he had not scored a top flight goal at Goodison Park for seven months.

Above all it was because he was not even on the pitch. The Scottish striker was sent on for the injured Muhamed Besic in the ninth minute and almost immediately started to dismantle the champions.

A header was followed by a crisp left foot drive from 25 yards before Nemanja Matic clawed a goal back. But Naismith made the points safe for Everton with a right foot finish from an acute angle. These were his last goals for the Toffees before joining Norwich City the following January.

Goal times: 17, 22 and 82

Scotland's Steven Naismith hit a perfect hat-trick to help Everton shoot down Chelsea in 2015

Scotland's Steven Naismith hit a perfect hat-trick to help Everton shoot down Chelsea in 2015

Scotland’s Steven Naismith hit a perfect hat-trick to help Everton shoot down Chelsea in 2015

19. Romelu Lukaku (WEST BROMWICH ALBION 5-5 Manchester United) — May 19, 2013 

You will be hard pressed to find a dead rubber more memorable than this. Sir Alex Ferguson headed to The Hawthorns for his final match as Manchester United manager with the title already in the bag.

All the attention was on Ferguson and his finale in the United hot seat after 26 years, and for a long time it was all going to script. United were 3-0 up and while Romelu Lukaku’s low bottom corner strike helped West Brom back towards 3-2, United soon restored their three-goal advantage.

But Lukaku was not done. With 10 minutes to play he pulled another goal back with a passing finish into the bottom corner, with Youssouf Mulumbu setting up a tense finale a minute later.

Lukaku did not even need ‘Fergie time’ to ruin the United boss’s big day after completing his treble from close range in an extraordinary ending to the greatest managerial career.

Goal times: 50, 80 and 86

He plays for them now but in 2013 Romulu Lukaku scored three against Manchester United

He plays for them now but in 2013 Romulu Lukaku scored three against Manchester United

He plays for them now but in 2013 Romulu Lukaku scored three against Manchester United

18. Andy Cole (MANCHESTER UNITED 9-0 Ipswich Town) — March 4, 1995 

Ipswich Town were already looking doomed in their battle against relegation, but optimistic fans would have travelled to Old Trafford with a slither of hope having seen their side win the reverse fixture 3-2 earlier in the season.

But that was a Manchester United side without Andy Cole and by the time the teams met again the gulf in class was there to see. Cole became the first Premier League player to score five goals in one game as he ripped apart an ageing Tractor Boys side along with goals from Roy Keane, Paul Ince and a brace from Mark Hughes.

This total annihilation at Old Trafford remains the biggest winning margin ever recorded in a Premier League game… yet United were still pipped to the title by Blackburn Rovers.

Goal times: 19, 37, 53, 65 and 87

Andy Cole fired five goals past Ipswich in United's record-breaking 9-0 victory back in 1995

Andy Cole fired five goals past Ipswich in United's record-breaking 9-0 victory back in 1995

Andy Cole fired five goals past Ipswich in United’s record-breaking 9-0 victory back in 1995

17. Ian Wright (ARSENAL 4-1 Bolton Wanderers) — September 13, 1997 

‘Just done it 179’. Except when Ian Wright took off his shirt to reveal the message that he had broken Cliff Bastin’s Arsenal goal scoring record, he had not.

The striker had only matched it with a precise finish across goal but his embarrassment was short-lived. Five minutes later Wright tapped home probably the easiest of his 185 Arsenal goals… before revealing the shirt again.

Wright continued to terrorise Bolton and completed a historic and perfect afternoon with a well placed volley into the bottom corner to ensure it was his hat-trick rather than his counting skills that stole the headlines.

Goal times: 20, 25 and 81

Ian Wright scored a hat-trick and became Arsenal's record scorer by downing Bolton in 1997

Ian Wright scored a hat-trick and became Arsenal's record scorer by downing Bolton in 1997

Ian Wright scored a hat-trick and became Arsenal’s record scorer by downing Bolton in 1997

16. Fredi Bobic (BOLTON WANDERERS 4-1 Ipswich Town) — April 6, 2002 

Throughout the entire 2001-02 season Fredi Bobic scored just four league goals. The Germany striker spent half of it on loan at Bolton Wanderers and was largely anonymous in his 16-match run.

But Bobic needed just one afternoon to become a hero among Trotters fans as he produced a hat-trick in a relegation battle with Ipswich Town that not only all but ensured his side’s survival but effectively doomed the Tractor Boys at the same time.

Come the end of the season it proved crucial. Bolton stayed up by four points but had they lost against Ipswich then Sam Allardyce’s team would have been relegated instead of Town. Four top half finishes across the next decade in the top flight followed for the Trotters while Ipswich have not been back since.

Goal times: 2, 30 and 38

Fredi Bobic scored four league goals in the 2001-02 season... three of them came in one game

Fredi Bobic scored four league goals in the 2001-02 season... three of them came in one game

Fredi Bobic scored four league goals in the 2001-02 season… three of them came in one game

15. Jurgen Klinsmann (Wimbledon 2-6 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR) — May 2, 1998

With just two games of the season to play, Tottenham were still in serious relegation trouble sitting three points and two places above the bottom three when they travelled to Wimbledon.

Those concerns only increased when a Peter Fear brace saw Wimbledon come from behind to take the lead following a Les Ferdinand opener.

But from then on the game was all about Jurgen Klinsmann, who equalised before half-time before scoring three times in the opening 15 minutes of the second half to completely rip the game away from the Dons.

The German even played a back-heel assist for Moussa Saib for the sixth goal on an afternoon the White Hart Lane legend ensured Tottenham’s Premier League safety before his retirement in the summer.

Goal times: 41, 54, 58 and 60

14. Wayne Rooney (MANCHESTER UNITED 8-2 Arsenal) — August 28, 2011

One of the great injustices of this memorable Premier League encounter was that among the wreckage of an Arsenal defence and the fall-out of the club’s worst defeat since 1896 was a brilliant hat-trick from Wayne Rooney.

Granted the goal that sealed the treble was a penalty kick, but not even defensive walls could prevent the other two from flying into the top corners.

Rooney combined with Ashley Young for a pair of 23 yard free-kicks that left Wojciech Szczesny diving in vain for one and rooted to the spot for the other in a result that piled pressure on under fire Gunners boss Arsene Wenger. Even over seven years some things never seem to change.

Goal times: 41, 64 and 82 pen

Wayne Rooney took home the match ball after inspiring United's 8-2 win over Arsenal in 2011

Wayne Rooney took home the match ball after inspiring United's 8-2 win over Arsenal in 2011

Wayne Rooney took home the match ball after inspiring United’s 8-2 win over Arsenal in 2011

13. Thierry Henry (ARSENAL 4-2 Liverpool) — April 9, 2004 

It had been a dreadful week for Arsenal. They had suffered defeat by Chelsea in the Champions League quarter-final shortly after being dumped out of the FA Cup semi-final by Manchester United.

Inside five days, dreams of a treble and an unbeaten campaign were replaced with fears of leaving the season empty handed – and Liverpool were to visit Highbury next.

But enter Thierry Henry. The striker equalised after Sami Hyypia gave Liverpool an early lead, before Robert Pires also had to pull the Gunners level after a Michael Owen effort.

A minute later and Arsenal’s talisman changed the dynamics. Picking up the ball in the midfield, leaving Dietmar Hamann on the turf and skilfully evading two Liverpool defenders the striker then brilliantly found the bottom corner to put Arsenal back on track.

The hat-trick that soon followed was further proof that the previous week was a blip in form as the Gunners went on to claim the title unbeaten.

Goal times: 31, 50 and 78

Henry gave Jamie Carragher a torrid time as Arsenal beat Liverpool in their Invincibles season

Henry gave Jamie Carragher a torrid time as Arsenal beat Liverpool in their Invincibles season

Henry gave Jamie Carragher a torrid time as Arsenal beat Liverpool in their Invincibles season

12. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Nottingham Forest 1-8 MANCHESTER UNITED) — February 6, 1999

It is hard to recall a team being given such a harsh slap back into reality than the mauling Manchester United handed to Nottingham Forest during their last encounter 19 years ago.

Forest, battling relegation, went into the game with renewed hope. New manager Ron Atkinson had just ended a 19-league match winless run at Everton ahead of United’s visit to the City Ground.

But United were chasing a treble and form was playing out with 10 minutes to go as they led 4-1. Little did Forest realise the horror was only just starting.

Solskjaer had only been on the pitch nine minutes when he began scoring and at no point over the remainder of the game did Forest’s hapless defenders look like stopping the Norwegian.

United’s victory remains the biggest ever away win in a Premier League match and it showed the difference in class between treble winners and a side who would go on to finish bottom of the top flight. Forest have not been back since.

Goal times: 80, 87, 90 and 90

11. Robbie Earnshaw (Charlton Athletic 1-4 WEST BROMWICH ALBION) — March 19, 2005

West Bromwich Albion would only win one away game in the 2004-05 Premier League season but it would ultimately kick start their campaign with a four-match unbeaten run in their battle against relegation.

But it needed a super-sub to get the job done. The scores were locked at 1-1 at The Valley when Robbie Earnshaw came off the bench with 26 minutes to play. Nine minutes later he headed the Baggies in front to begin his single handed destruction of the Addicks.

West Brom would go on to secure survival on the final day of the season, becoming the only team to beat the drop having been bottom at Christmas.

Goal times: 73, 84 and 90 pen 

Robbie Earnshaw (right) scored a hat-trick that helped keep West Bromwich Albion up in 2005

Robbie Earnshaw (right) scored a hat-trick that helped keep West Bromwich Albion up in 2005

Robbie Earnshaw (right) scored a hat-trick that helped keep West Bromwich Albion up in 2005

BEST PL HAT-TRICKS COUNTDOWN

50. Kevin Lisbie (CHARLTON 3-2 Liverpool) — 2003

49. Paul Kitson (Charlton Athletic 4-4 WEST HAM) — 2001

48. Cristiano Ronaldo (MAN UNITED 6-0 Newcastle) — 2008

47. Dion Dublin (Southampton 1-4 ASTON VILLA) — 1998 

46. Harry Kane (Leicester City 1-6 TOTTENHAM) — 2017

45. Peter Crouch (LIVERPOOL 4-1 Arsenal) — 2007

44. Clive Mendonca (CHARLTON 5-0 Southampton) — 1998

43. Jermain Defoe (TOTTENHAM 9-1 Wigan) — 2009

42. Callum Wilson (West Ham 3-4 BOURNEMOUTH) — 2015

41. Teddy Sheringham (PORTSMOUTH 4-0 Bolton) — 2003

40. Andrei Kanchelskis (MAN UNITED 5-0 Man City) — 1994

39. Tore Andre Flo (Tottenham1-6 CHELSEA) — 1997

38. Duncan Ferguson (EVERTON 3-2 Bolton ) — 1997

37. Robert Pires (ARSENAL 6-1 Southampton) — 2003

36. Dirk Kuyt (LIVERPOOL 3-1 Man United) — 2011

35. Steven Gerrard (LIVERPOOL 3-0 Everton) — 2012 

34. Tony Yeboah (Wimbledon 2-4 LEEDS ) — 1995

33. Sergio Aguero (MAN CITY 6-1 Newcastle) — 2015

32. Stan Collymore (LEICESTER 5-2 Sunderland) — 2000

31. Peter Odemwingie (Wolves 1-5 WEST BROM) — 2012

30. Didier Drogba (CHELSEA 8-0 Wigan Athletic) — 2010

29. Mark Viduka (LEEDS 4-3 Liverpool) — 2000

28. Alan Shearer (NEWCASTLE 8-0 Sheffield Wednesday) —1999

27. David Bentley (BLACKBURN ROVERS 4-3 Manr United) — 2006

26. Kevin Nolan (NEWCASTLE UNITED 5-1 Sunderland) — 2010

25. Eric Cantona (LEEDS UNITED 5-0 Tottenham Hotspur) — 1992

24. Michael Owen (Newcastle United 1-4 LIVERPOOL) — 1998

23. Andy Carroll (WEST HAM UNITED 3-3 Arsenal) — 2016

22. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (CHELSEA 4-0 Tottenham) —2002

21. Andrei Arshavin (Liverpool 4-4 ARSENAL) — 2009

20. Steven Naismith (EVERTON 3-1 Chelsea) — 2015

19. Romelu Lukaku (WEST BROM ALBION 5-5 Man United) — 2013

18. Andy Cole (MAN UNITED 9-0 Ipswich) — 1995

17. Ian Wright (ARSENAL 4-1 Bolton) — 1997

16. Fredi Bobic (BOLTON 4-1 Ipswich) — 2002

15. Jurgen Klinsmann (Wimbledon 2-6 TOTTENHAM) — 1998

14. Wayne Rooney (MAN UNITED 8-2 Arsenal) — 2011

13. Thierry Henry (ARSENAL 4-2 Liverpool) — 2004

12. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Nottingham Forest 1-8 MAN UNITED) — 1999

11. Robbie Earnshaw (Charlton 1-4 WEST BROM) — 2005

David Moyes can turn West Ham into a top side: Pienaar

  • Steven Pienaar believes David Moyes can turn West Ham into a top-seven side
  • Pienaar has backed the Scotsman to replicate the good work he did at Everton
  • He highlighted the importance of West Ham giving him control of recruitment 
  • Pienaar said the club can ‘build for the future as long as he can do things his way’
  • He also revealed Moyes was not to blame for Sunderland’s relegation last season

Simon Jones for the Daily Mail

Steven Pienaar says David Moyes can build West Ham into a top-seven side if he is given control of player recruitment.

The 35-year-old South African midfielder, who announced his retirement on Wednesday after finishing his career with Johannesburg club Bidvest Wits, played under Moyes at Everton and Sunderland.

And he has backed his former boss to replicate the good work that earned him recognition at Everton, revealing that Sunderland’s relegation last season was down to a divisive dressing room and not the Scot’s management.

Steven Pienaar believes David Moyes can turn West Ham into a top-seven Premier League side

Steven Pienaar believes David Moyes can turn West Ham into a top-seven Premier League side

Steven Pienaar believes David Moyes can turn West Ham into a top-seven Premier League side

Pienaar said: ‘This season has been all about surviving for David and I wouldn’t have backed West Ham to do that the way they started the season. But he has picked up good results and the signs are they can build for the future as long as the club allows him control to do things his way.

‘David has his moments as a man-manager, he can lose it, but he is a straight talker. He is honest with you and if you work for him, he’ll work for you.

‘The reason Sunderland went down was because of a divisive dressing room. It wasn’t nice. Every dressing room has bad eggs who moan if they are not playing, but Sunderland was one of the worst.

The former Sunderland midfielder believes Moyes can replicate the success he had at Everton

The former Sunderland midfielder believes Moyes can replicate the success he had at Everton

The former Sunderland midfielder believes Moyes can replicate the success he had at Everton

He worked with Moyes at Everton and said he can help West Ham if he can do things his way

He worked with Moyes at Everton and said he can help West Ham if he can do things his way

He worked with Moyes at Everton and said he can help West Ham if he can do things his way

‘You can see the way they are now, it wasn’t down to the manager, it’s deeper than that. I was one of a number of ex-Everton players who went there and if maybe you ask Joleon Lescott or Darron Gibson the same question, we had a feeling of, “You’re not welcome here”, as if we were teacher’s pets. 

‘Certain people didn’t have the right attitude. We needed to pull together but some there just wanted to pull things apart.’

Moyes is still to convince some West Ham fans that he will play the attractive football they crave. Pienaar said: ‘David has a reputation for being too defensive-minded or cautious. He doesn’t want to concede but that’s a practical mind. He’d like to play attractive football but the budgets he has had haven’t always allowed him to buy the players Manchester City have.

‘We played good attacking football at Everton and I can see similarities with West Ham. It’s a good club but the owners have to let him build it his way. Then they can challenge at the right end of the table.’

 The 35-year-old also revealed Sunderland's relegation last season was not Moyes' fault at all

 The 35-year-old also revealed Sunderland's relegation last season was not Moyes' fault at all

 The 35-year-old also revealed Sunderland’s relegation last season was not Moyes’ fault at all