Posted on

FA Cup Final Preview and How it Happened

Wembley Andy Cole

The FA Cup is regarded as magical by football fans up and down the country and over the years has provided moments that many fans will never forget. This year’s FA cup has been no different, as we head into the Final at the home of English football, Wembley.

The FA Cup is the oldest Football competition in the world, founded in 1871 it has been going for 151 years.

Much Anticipated Round 3

The Premier League teams entered the fray in round three. There were no upsets for Manchester City who dispatched League two Swindon 4-1. Liverpool replicated that score line against a shy Shrewsbury Town. The goals were flying in for the Premier League sides as Chelsea ran riot against Chesterfield, knocking them out of the cup.

Fans flock from corner to corner of the country to see their teams try to go on a cup journey. One set of fans who did not have far to travel were Crystal Palace. Palace made the short trip across South London where they faced Millwall in a London derby. After a tentative start Crystal Palace powered past a hostile Millwall and booked their place in the 4th round.

For many of the lower league teams, the FA Cup is a chance to play teams they may never usually face and likewise for the teams at the top end of the footballing pyramid. The biggest shock of the third round happened at St James’ Park. Newly owned Newcastle United faltered against League One’s Cambridge United. Results like this is what make the FA Cup so special to many.

There were a couple of other third round shock exits as 14-time winners of the competition, Arsenal fell short against Nottingham Forest. Everyone likes to see the underdogs do well in the FA Cup. This year’s underdogs were Boreham Wood of the National League. They picked apart a struggling Wimbledon side to progress to round four after being in the competition since round one.

Giant Killing

February rolled around and we had the pleasure of more FA Cup action. If teams can get past this round, then Wembley would start to be on the mind of many fans and the ‘what if’ conversations start to be had.

Manchester United have won the FA Cup on 12 occasions and were looking to do well in the competition as they haven’t had much success of late in other competitions. They had a home fixture against Championship side Middlesborough. A tense game went to extra time, where the deadlock was still not broken. Penalties was to be the decider. A defiant Middlesborough beat Manchester United 8-7 on penalties, and they put themselves in the hat for the next round.

Another Premier League heavyweight were put under pressure in round four. Plymouth made the trip up to London from the South Coast to Stamford Bridge. A defiant Plymouth pushed the European Champions to extra time. Unfortunately for Plymouth, Chelsea’s quality showed as they scored in extra time knocking Plymouth out. Last year’s champions Leicester were stunned as Nottingham Forest dismantled them, winning 4-1, beating another Premier League side.

Premier League top dogs Liverpool and Manchester City yet again cruised into the next round with convincing wins against Cardiff and Fulham.

The shocks did not let up in round five. Most notably in the Middlesborough v Tottenham Hotspur fixture. Middlesborough found themselves a winner late in extra time. Tottenham’s miserable wait for a trophy continued.

Boreham wood’s magical journey also came to an end in the fifth round losing to Everton. Liverpool kept their hopes alive with a narrow win at home to Norwich with rivals Man City winning away at Peterborough

The Business End

The business end was approaching with the Quarter Final draw done. Some of the big hitters were still in the hat. In form forest hosted Liverpool which was a cagey affair. Liverpool prevailed triumphant with a 1-0 victory. Crystal Palace, who’s last trip to Wembley was six years ago hosted Everton. Crystal Palace got off to a slow start, but their quality shined through and ended up beating the toffees 4-1. This sent the Palace faithful into pandemonium, they were on their way to Wembley.

The Semi Final draw was made up of Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea and Crystal Palace. The draw was watched by many with anticipation. Chelsea drew Crystal Palace with Liverpool and City drawing each other in what was a massive fixture.

Wembley Bound

Wembley beckoned, Liverpool v City was first up. Liverpool got off to a flyer with an early goal. From there City never looked to be in the driving seat. With goals from Konate and a stunning brace from Mane, Liverpool were 3-0 up at half time. City fought back after half time with a Grealish goal and a late strike from Bernardo Silva, however it was not to be enough against a resolute Liverpool side.

The other semi-final saw Chelsea play Crystal Palace. With a raging atmosphere the players took to a sunny Wembley. Nothing separated the sides in the first half with chances for both teams. The game approached the later stages and Chelsea showed their quality with two goals in short succession. Palace hearts were broken.

This made the match up for the Final. Liverpool play Chelsea this weekend at Wembley for what will surely be one of the games of the season. Chelsea will be looking for their revenge after losing to Liverpool on penalties in the Carabao Cup Final. Who will you be backing?

Join us at Wembley

As official hospitality partners with Wembley we have lot’s of great events coming up there. From Football, NFL, concerts and many more. Click here to take a look at everything we have at this iconic stadium.

Posted on

The Cricket season is here! Summer Preview

Cricket Summer The Oval

Cricket fans in the UK will not be left disappointed in 2022 with a packed schedule of high-class fixtures across all formats of the game in both the international and domestic arenas.

The Hundred

Domestically, all eyes will be on the return of The Hundred after the hugely successful inaugural season of English cricket’s franchise short-format game in 2021. Southern Brave, captained by James Vince and playing at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl, won the men’s tournament last year; and Dané van Niekerk’s Oval Invincibles, playing at – you guessed it – The Kia Oval, were crowned the first women’s champions in this exciting new format of the game. With a compelling blend of both home-grown and overseas talent, this year promises to be as good, if not better than last.

The Hundred Final for both the men’s and women’s competition take places at Lord’s on Saturday September 3rd. See here for hospitality availability at this year’s tournament.

The Hundred Oval

Ben Stokes takes the reigns as Captain

Although this year signals the end of an era in English cricket with Joe Root resigning the test captaincy after just over five years in the role, there is plenty of room for optimism under Root’s replacement, with the box office, world-class all-rounder, Ben Stokes set to lead the team as the new captain of the English test side.

There are few easy matches in test cricket, and it doesn’t get much tougher for Stokes’ first challenge as England welcome the reigning ICC World Test Champions, New Zealand to play a three-match series. Starting at the Home of Cricket, Lord’s, on Thursday June 2nd, before heading to Trent Bridge just over a week later on June 10th, and rounding off the series in Yorkshire at Headingley with the final test starting on June 23rd. England vs New Zealand cricket in recent years has rarely failed to produce thrilling contests, most notably the ICC Cricket World Cup Final of 2019. If this summer’s test series throws up even half as much drama as that fateful date at Lord’s, we’ll be in for a treat.

Next up for Ben Stokes and England, India, as they conclude last year’s covid affected test series with the fifth and final match to be played at Edgbaston starting on July 1st. As things stand India lead the series 2-1 after wins at Lord’s and The Kia Oval last summer; however, England’s win at Headingley means the series can still be tied should Stokes and co triumph in the one-off test meeting this summer.

South Africa test series rounds off the summer action

The national side will then quickly turn their attention to the shorter formats of the game, again facing India, this time with three-match IT20 and ODI series to be played at The Ageas Bowl, Edgbaston, Trent Bridge, The Kia Oval, Lord’s and Emirates Old Trafford between July 7th and July 17th. The Bharat Army never fail to turn up in their droves when the Indian national side is in town and we can expect a scintillating atmosphere at all the games as a result.

After another IT20 and ODI series against South Africa, we welcome the Proteas test team to England for the major test series this summer. Since the last time England vs South Africa took place on home soil in 2017, much and more has changed for both sides, the rivalry on the other hand, remains fierce.

Dean Elgar now captains the tourists and has enjoyed a promising start to his reign, first winning away in the West Indies in his debut series as captain and backing that victory up with a 2-1 series win when India toured South Africa over the new year. Taking place at some of England’s finest cricketing venues: Lord’s, Emirates Old Trafford and The Kia Oval, this series is sure to provide the perfect end to a wonderful summer of international cricket. See here for availability and dates for all of England’s fixtures in 2022.

Engage Guests at Lord's Sidebottom, Prior, Small

Our Cricket Hospitality Options

With so many incredible matches this summer, there’s no shortage of hospitality opportunity for you up and down the country. Our official ICON hospitality at Lord’s, The Oval and Old Trafford is the perfect way to spend the day in the sun, stocked up with food, drink and entertainment on and off the pitch.

Call us on 0207 048 4848 or register your interest on your chosen event to enquire and secure your hospitality today!

Posted on

2022 F1 Season Latest

F1 Italian Grand Prix Paddock Club Monza

The 2022 season has already provided plenty of drama in the first two races and now is the perfect opportunity to be involved in 2022. We have our official ICON Silverstone hospitality, a premium experience at the home of British Motor sport to relish the British Grand Prix. We are also official distributors of the F1 Paddock Club for 2022 around the world, so you can travel and watch your favourite race in ultimate style.

Enquire for the British Grand Prix or a F1 Paddock Club experience today!

 

Bahrain

The much-anticipated 2022 Formula 1 season got of to a flying start in Bahrain. After an epic finish to last season, fans were hoping this year’s can provide the same excitement, drama and controversy. Qualifying got underway and we got to see a first glimpse of the cars in the first competitive battle of the season.

Ferrari’s Leclerc flew round in Q1 as the fastest driver. Last year’s champion, Verstappen put in a mesmerizing Q2 to hit back making it all to play for to claim pole position. It was Leclerc who prevailed victorious and blistered round the track to take pole in Bahrain. Red Bull’s Verstappen finished a close second, putting him on the front row. The Mercedes duo of Hamilton and new recruit George Russell, both made it to Q3 with Hamilton starting 5th and Russell starting 9th.  An old Mercedes face in Valtteri Bottas showed he still has it, finishing qualifying in 6th for his new team Alpha Romeo. The biggest shock in Bahrain Qualifying was provided by Haas. For the first time since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix both their drivers made it to Q2, with Kevin Magnussen going all the way to Q3. Magnussen qualified 7th on the grid. There were a few surprise exits from Q2, Lando Norris being one finishing up in P13. The back of the of the pack was made up of Nicholas Latifi in the Williams, not a surprise to many as he started in P20.

Race day approached as engines revved in the paddock with drivers making their way to the grid. It was lights out and away they went. New tyres, new drivers, new regulations and new cars, the 2022 season was off. Verstappen looked to put pressure on the leader Leclerc from the beginning. Leclerc covered off Verstappen’s attempt to slip down the inside on turn 1, while his teammate Carlos Sainz retained P3. Hamilton picked up a place as he weaved his way into 4th with Keven Magnussen making his way to P5. Not all drivers got off to a smooth start as Perez lost two places in the Red Bull putting him into 6th. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon faced an early penalty for an infringement on Mick Schumacher.

Teams needed to ensure that their decision making was spot on. Tyres starting to wear and pit stops needed to be made. Many drivers took to the decision to get soft tyres on with both Leclerc and Verstappen opting for the popular strategic choice. The Red Bull’s and Ferrari’s traded blows all juggling position. Are we seeing a new rivalry coming to the fray?

As the race was in its later stages it was finely poised to give us drama. Drama is exactly what we got. Verstappen pitted but then went on to inform his team there was an issue with the car. He was having trouble with steering and then a heart-breaking power fault ensured Verstappen did not finish the race to many Red Bull fan’s disappointment.

Lap 46 brought out the safety car as Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri stopped and went out in flames. This was to be the end of Pierre’s race. The remaining cars took advantage of the safety car and took a pit stop. Hamilton was breathing down Sergio Perez’s neck when the Mexican began to complain about a power issue. It turned from bad to worse as Checo spun at turn one when his engine failed. This allowed Hamilton to take the last place on the Podium. A race to forget for Red Bull. Russell, who started ninth, enjoyed superior race pace to the midfielders and took P4 after the Red Bulls retired, ahead of Kevin Magnussen, fifth for Haas on his return to F1.

Valtteri Bottas rescued P6 after a poor start for Alfa Romeo, while Esteban Ocon shrugged off a penalty early on for contact with Mick Schumacher to take a surprise seventh.

In P8 was AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, solid on his final stint and in the final restart, while Fernando Alonso shrugged off poor pace in his second stint to take ninth. And on his F1 debut, Zhou Guanyu took points for Alfa Romeo with Mick Schumacher missing out in P11.

Charles Leclerc won a blockbuster 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix as Carlos Sainz backed up a Ferrari one-two as Red Bull suffered a double DNF to give Lewis Hamilton the final podium place in a stunning start to the season. All eyes were on Saudi Arabia for the next round.

 

Jeddah

The second race of the busy F1 season was in Saudi Arabia at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. The first Grand Prix there was in 2021, one of the most dramatic races in the famous Hamilton vs Verstappen season. This 50-lap circuit is one of the fastest across the board. The battle in qualifying between Red Bull and Ferrari continued but there was absolutely no stopping Sergio Perez as he acquired his first ever career pole with a last gasp effort. An incredible effort from the Mexican as the two Ferraris slotted in, qualifying 2nd and 3rd, leaving Verstappen completing the battle in 4th. McLaren’s start to the season took another blow as they qualified outside the top 10 for the second race weekend in a row.

The session had paused for an hour during Q2 after a violent high-speed crash for Haas’ Mick Schumacher, who was extricated to the medical centre where no injuries were sustained and later to hospital for precautionary checks.

Hamilton also ran into trouble, not even making it past Q1 for the first time since Brazil 2017 finishing qualifying in a miserable P16. Hamilton’s ex – teammate, Valtteri Bottas qualified in 8th while Alpine’s Ocon produced another successful qualifying starting 5th.

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda had barely made it out the garage for the session with a suspected fuel related problem. His teammate Pierre Gasly qualified in an impressive 9th.

The second-ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was never going to be a straightforward affair, given the tight confines and high speeds of this demanding new city circuit. Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda did not start the race and therefore 18 cars lined up on the grid with all drivers anticipating a swift start.

The two Red Bulls got off to a good start and Perez maintained his lead up until lap 16 when Red Bull were forced into an early pit stop. This proved to be unfortunate as Latifi crashed his Williams forcing the safety car to come on track. This gave all the other divers an opportunity for a pit stop, saving precious seconds as the Perez and the early stoppers continued at a reduced speed. Perez’s Pit stop cost him three crucial places. The race was nip and tuck all the way through, but more unfortunate events emerged. A virtual safety car emerged on lap 38 when McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo halted at the pit lane exit alongside Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, both their races were over.

When the virtual safety car finished on lap 41, Verstappen was within less than a second behind Leclerc. With DRS Max took the lead, this didn’t last long as Leclerc also fought back with DRS taking him back past the Dutchman. After a spell of dramatic overtakes, Verstappen made sure he had DRS and snatched the lead of Leclerc. He managed to keep Ferrari’s Leclerc at bay to win the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. It was a double podium for Ferrari with Perez missing out to Carlos Sainz. Mercedes’ George Russell was in the points with an immaculate 5th place finish. His teammate Hamilton only just manged to be in the points finishing 10th. Only thirteen drivers managed to finish the race.

As the first two races are now complete, have we seen a new rivalry unfold in the form of Red Bull and Ferrari, Verstappen against Leclerc? This weekend’s race takes us to Melbourne for 58 laps around the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit. Who will take that middle podium?

Remaining F1 Calendar