Gerry Thornley on Champions Cup format; Benitez gets a reprieve as Everton stun Arsenal

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Demarai Gray of Everton celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the Premier League win over Arsenal. Photo: Peter Powell/EPA

Demarai Gray of Everton celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the Premier League win over Arsenal. Photo: Peter Powell/EPA

As Storm Barra surges across the country, the Irish provinces remain focused on the start of the European season this weekend with Leinster first into action at home to Bath at 3.15pm on Saturday. This is the stage of the season where thing really begin to heat up as Europe takes centre stage before the provincial derbies over the festive season. Leo Cullen’s men have been in good form so far this season and hope to move it up a gear this weekend against a struggling Bath team. This year the format of the competition has remained the same as last season’s pandemic-hit tournament but this morning Gerry Thornley writes that the set-up now isn’t as spectator friendly as it used to be while the French and English clubs look better primed for this opening weekend.

Moving to soccer and Demarai Gray’s late screamer gave Everton a much-needed win over Arsenal last night as the pressure continued to mount on Rafael Benitez. After going behind to a Martin Odegaard goal in the first half, Richarlison’s equaliser gave way to Gray’s winner in a victory that Benitez hopes can turn the tide after fans once again voiced their displeasure in the first half at Goodison. Elsewhere, the Premier League is to trial a saliva test to diagnose concussion where players will provide baseline swabs, then at three further time points following a concussive injury, the plan said. Comparative swabs will be taken from an uninjured player and another player who has suffered a musculoskeletal injury in the same match or training session.

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