How human cock-fighting garnered acceptance and more of the week's best sportswriting

These articles will get you thinking.

1. “While Arsenal might not be at the very pinnacle of football clubs financially, they are still better placed than most, so it is difficult to understand why the club has not used all of its resources to give itself the best chance of success. Very few fans want the club to throw caution to the winds, but they could surely invest more than they have done.

“By most standards, Arsenal have a fine squad that is certainly capable of challenging for major honours, but in recent years there has always been something lacking. The latest financial figures continue to demonstrate that there is enough money to be competitive in the market.”

The Swiss Rambler takes an in-depth look at Arsenal’s financial health and questions the Premier League club’s reluctance to invest more in the quality of its squad.

2. “It’s different when an ageing athlete hits the crossroads and, as time closes in, the old intensity withers away. But settling into a permanent relationship, or becoming a father, alters the focus of the burningly ambitious tyro. In its place, something more layered can help produce a new kind of fire. It might be less raging – but a deeper sense of control and experience can produce lasting greatness.”

Donald McRae sits down with Andy Murray for The Guardian to discuss how he plans to balance fatherhood with the psychological battle to remain on the heels of Novak Djokovic.

3. “In an era when the professional game in the Northern hemisphere is dominated by Basteraud-style blunderbusses and freight trains who specialise in simply bashing into the opposition defence time after time after time, Setanta’s coverage of the Schools Cup has allowed people to catch a glimpse of the almost naively entertaining rugby played at this level.”

Conor Neville of captures the fascination with, and enormous popularity of, the Irish schools rugby scene.

4. “It sometimes seems a fine line. While the 17,000 at the O2 were well-educated in the intricacies of MMA and so knew where that line lay, many of the hundreds in Colchester didn’t. At one point, the referee had to ask two ladies to stop screaming ‘elbow him in the face’. It was, he explained, an amateur bout and so that move wasn’t allowed.

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“Most of the audience were there to see a Polish heavyweight named Rafal Cejrowski. Plenty had flown over especially to watch him. He was fighting João Mimoso, who is, no joke, a Portuguese university professor.”

The Guardian’s Andy Bull examines how “MMA and UFC conquered the world”.

5. “Anyone who says that pro basketball today is not as exciting as it was when those Jordan-era Bulls were winning 72 games is clinging to nostalgia. It’s as objectively untrue as claiming that Lombardi’s Packers were more exciting than Belichick’s Patriots. Maybe you think they were better, but that’s a different argument. The natural evolution of sports means there can always be disputes about eras; but what cannot be disputed is that every sport tends toward the bigger and the faster and the more wide-open. This is why sports are inherently progressive, and this is why Steph Curry is almost certainly the herald of a new era, whether you like it or not.”

Michael Weinreb of Rolling Stone on Golden State’s phenomenal guard, Steph Curry.

Crystal Palace could be set for an all-Irish central defence next season – reports

Cian O’Connor leads Ireland to showjumping glory in Florida

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