A shinkansen bullet train on a test run glides in alongside us,slowing to a halt amid a symphony of mechanical exhalations. Beside me, Noriko Iwata of the local tourist board bristles with excitement. “The shinkansen is a very, very big thing for Kanazawa,” she says with a beaming smile. “When ticket sales opened for the first journey in March, they sold out within 25 seconds.”
The Japanese love anything new, of course, but this also shows their affection for “Little Kyoto”, as this city on the north coast of Honshu is known. Even before the new shinkansen line opened – slashing journey times from Tokyo by two hours to 2½ hours – domestic tourism had increased five-fold over the previous few months, such was the renewed interest in Kanazawa, and foreign tourists are expected to follow.
Rising 2,000 feet above the valley of the Colorado river, the Colorado National Monument is a semi-desert land of flat-top mountains and canyons. Visitors can marvel at this classic wild west landscape from one of 40 walking trails or the historic 23-mile Rim Rock Drive, one of the most scenic roads in the US. The monument is run by the National Parks Service, organisers of National Park Week (April 18-26), America’s largest celebration of national heritage. This photograph, taken by William Woodward, appears on the @usinterior Instagram account.
Well, one thing that isn’t going to be boring is when his team comes to blows with Manchester United this weekend.
OK, so Mourinho’s comments in his Friday press conference were more tongue in cheek than anything, referring to how his team has reduced the drama in the Premier League since they have led the table since the opening weekend.
The title race is still alive, though, even if it is in its dying embers.
Chelsea’s victory over Queens Park Rangers last weekend leaves them seven points clear of Arsenal, with a further point advantage on United.
With just seven games remaining until the end of the season, it’s difficult to imagine Chelsea will not finish the campaign as champions.
A victory for United at Stamford Bridge will make things very interesting, however, especially as Chelsea travel to Arsenal next week and soon after that trip will entertain Liverpool.
Mourinho’s side have been so dominant, but with those around them picking up points more consistently in the past weeks, they know there’s still work to do. And they have some difficult games to negotiate in the process.
Thus far they have looked free of nerves, so it will be United’s task to make Chelsea feel the pressure on home soil.
In many ways, Louis van Gaal’s side have nothing to fear. Not much is expected of them on Saturday, and as rank outsiders for the title, the pressure is off.
Nothing changes if United lose, whereas for Chelsea, it does. Suddenly they will feel in touching distance for the chasing pack and that can be dangerous for their frame of mind.
The whole complexion of their run-in will change.
Mourinho is a pragmatic manager. He knows all this very well, which is why he’s talking in numbers of points needed and not victories right now.
Chelsea need 11 more points to win the title and the manager is driving that fact home to his players. Whether it’s one point or three against United, it matters for little; Chelsea will still be moving forward, reducing their required points tally, game by game.
We know Mourinho well and he’ll do everything to stop his team from losing this game.
That’s not to suggest it will be a defensive encounter, but don’t expect any gung-ho tactics. That’s not his game and it’s not Chelsea’s.
United know better than that, too.
It’s going to be cagey, that cliched game of football chess between two master tacticians. For that alone, we can expect this game to make for compelling viewing.
Date: Saturday, April 18
Time: 5.30 p.m. BST/12.30 p.m. ET
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London
TV Info: Sky Sports 1 (UK only)/NBCSN (U.S. only)
Live Stream: Sky Go (UK only)/NBC Sports Live Extra (U.S. only)
Mourinho wouldn’t elaborate too much on the fitness of Loic Remy, but he did suggest the Frenchman is a possibility to start against United.
Speaking on Friday, Mourinho explained Remy’s chances were better than 50/50 after he missed last week’s 1-0 victory over QPR with a calf problem.
Other than Diego Costa’s ongoing hamstring problems, the Blues have no other injury concerns.
Also, after they avoided picking up a yellow card last week, Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic are no longer at risk of a two-game suspension.
The FA’s disciplinary table has now been re-set to zero for the remainder of the season, meaning previous offences and tallies up to now are no longer relevant.
Matic and Fabregas were both on nine bookings for the season.
As for Van Gaal’s side, a spate of injuries seems to be United’s biggest threat against getting a result at Stamford Bridge.
Daley Blind (ankle), Michael Carrick (calf), Phil Jones (ankle) and Marcos Rojo (groin) will all miss out on Saturday.
Question marks also remain over the fitness of Luke Shaw and Robin van Persie.
Van Gaal explained in his news conference that United’s depleted squad could mean Wayne Rooney starts in midfield against Chelsea, per The Telegraph.
Should that prove the case, Radamel Falcao is expected to lead the United attack.
Last 5 games
Players to watch
Few players, if any, have got the better of Nemanja Matic in his 18 months back at Chelsea.
The Serbian is going to need to be at his best to prevent Marouane Fellaini bucking the trend, however.
United’s Belgian has been in inspired form of late, his physical presence difficult for teams to handle.
Matic needs to nullify his threat in midfield.
It was for battles such as this that Mourinho re-signed Matic, and while he has been exceptional all season, he can’t afford to have an off day with United and Fellaini in town.
How will the Spaniard react upon his return to Stamford Bridge?
It will be Juan Mata’s first appearance in west London since his switch to Manchester United in January 2014.
He hasn’t had the best of times at Old Trafford, but his form has improved considerably in more recent times and he has been one of United’s standout players.
Will he continue that form? Or will the emotion of the occasion overwhelm him?
One thing is certain and that’s the need for Mata be on top of his game. United’s injury crisis means they need every player on song against Chelsea, especially him as he has the ability to cause real damage to this Chelsea team.
Stunning, sensational, dazzling and epic! These are just a few of the adjectives that first come to mind when describing An American In Paris.
It took over 60 years for this show to make it to Broadway, and it was well worth the wait!
This grand story of love and art and is done justice and so lovely and artful!!!
This is now the best show we have seen this season – by far!
Based on the iconic Vincent Minnelli film starring Gene Kelly and with a score from the Gershwin brothers, An American In Parisfeatures some of the most beloved songs of the 20th century – from I Got Rhythm to ‘S Wonderful and They Can’t Take That Away From Me.
An American In Paris is both classic and ultra modern. It feels like West Side Story, if it were created today.
EVERYTHING works in unison here. It is what musical theater in its most excellence should do! Everything furthers the plot along!
The songs! The dancing! The sets! The lighting! The costumes! It’s all spectacular and all the vision of Christopher Wheeldon, who shockingly makes his directory with An American In Paris.
His choices are so bold and inspired! Assured! Nothing would indicate this is a first-time director!
Wheeldon’s background is in ballet and he also serves as the show’s choreographer. And WOW is there some dancing in this show!
No other Broadway musical has as much dancing as An American In ParisAn American In Paris! And all kinds of dance – from ballet to tap! It feels very Jerome Robbins, and that is a very high compliment!
The dance numbers are so exquisite!
The scenic design is so inventive!
We can’t stop thinking about it all, and especially Robert Fairchild in the Gene Kelly role.
The entire cast is great, but Fairchild gives one of THE BEST performances we have ever seen in the theater!
Not only is he an exceptional dancer – he’s a member of NYC Ballet – but he also has the vocal and acting chops to pull this all off so seemingly effortlessly.
He is working so hard on that stage but he makes it seem easy!
This is a Tony-winning performance and a timeless production that must be seen by everyone worldwide!
On April 16, the Star Wars: The Force Awakens director took part in the Twizzler challenge, a movement designed to bring awareness to Autism. In the hilarious challenge, two people eat a Twizzler Lady and the Tramp style and whoever ends up with most of the candy “wins”.