The Sports Matrix: Tuesday 8 March 2011

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The Independent Online

Lampard double sees Chelsea home

Two goals from Frank Lampard saw Chelsea to a 3-1 win at Blackpool. John Terry’s header gave the visitors the lead and while Blackpool played well Frank Lampard’s penalty made it 2-0. The midfielder added another before Jason Puncheon’s consolation. MORE

Morgan replaces injured Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen has been replaced in the England squad by Eoin Morgan after going home with a hernia. Morgan broke a finger in January but he has recovered quicker than expected and will almost certainly play against Bangladesh on Friday. MORE

UK Athletics chief praises Paris haul

Charles van Commenee, head coach of UK Athletics, praised British athletes for their eight medal haul from the weekend’s European Indoor Championships in Paris: “We have a lot of positives to take with us.” MORE

Suarez irritated by ineligibility

Luis Suarez is frustrated at being cup-tied in Europe. His old club Ajax’s demotion to the Europa League means he is ineligible, so he cannot play this Thursday. “It is very difficult for me to play one week and then have to wait two weeks,” he said. MORE

Kenya brushed aside by Canada

Canada cruised to a five-wicket win over fellow-associate members Kenya. They bowled the Kenyans out for 198 and reached the target with 27 balls remaining, thanks to a 132 stand between wicketkeeper-captain Ashish Bagai and Jimmy Hansra.

Norwich travel to rivals Leicester

Leicester City host Norwich City tonight in the Championship, with Paul Lambert’s side hoping to hold off Leicester’s push for the playoffs. “With the way it’s shaping up, it looks to be a very tasty fixture,” said former Norwich forward Iwan Roberts.

England plans hit by earthquakes

The recent earthquakes in Christchurch have badly damaged the AMI Stadium, which was due to host two quarter-finals in England’s half of the draw for the World Cup later this year. England’s plans, therefore, are on hold for the time being. MORE

Crouch hailed as ‘strongest’ player

Milan centre-back Thiago Silva has identified Peter Crouch as Tottenham’s main threat ahead of tomorrow’s tie: “He is the strongest player I have marked in the Champions League.” Harry Redknapp expects Rafael van der Vaart to be fit to play. MORE

Mason excited to start with Hull KR

Willie Mason has finally arrived at Hull KR, four games into the Super League season, having obtained the necessary paperwork. “I’m sorry it took so long,” the Australian forward said, “I’m looking to repay the fans and I can’t wait to play.” MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

In the matter of fulfilling potential, of grasping that sometimes there are opportunities which might never appear again in quite such a cluster, there is arguably no more fascinating case study than Arsène Wenger’s team. MORE

Wenger considers Van Persie gamble

Arsène Wenger last night revealed he is considering bringing Robin van Persie back into the Arsenal side for tonight’s game in Barcelona, four weeks before he was due to return from a knee injury. The Dutch forward was injured nine days ago during the Carling Cup final, and was expected to be out for one month. But he will undergo a fitness test this morning, and is likely to make the bench, with Nicklas Bendtner leading the line. Cesc Fabregas has recovered from a hamstring injury and will play. “For the last six days I’ve not felt anything,” said the Arsenal captain, “and I’ve been training outside.” Wenger insisted that he will attack tonight, saying that playing for a 0-0 result from the start was not “realistic” and “would be against our nature”. The Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, spoke warmly of Arsenal’s 19-year-old midfielder Jack Wilshere, describing him as a “top player” and “a big, big surprise” but adding that “we have second team players like him”. MORE

Mascherano hails rival Fabregas

Javier Mascherano will face Cesc Fabregas tonight, and knows the strengths of his opponent from his time at Liverpool. “He has that different touch on the ball,” Mascherano said, “that something a little bit special that reminds everyone where he came from.” MORE

Trainer: Midnight Chase a threat

Midnight Chase’s trainer Neil Mulholland believes his runner will be a threat in the Cheltenham Gold Cup next week. “If he’s still there at the bottom of the hill,” he said, “he won’t be far away at the top.” The horse has won four races at Cheltenham this year. MORE