The sporting week ahead (06/10/13)

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The Independent Online


So bring on the big two, Arsenal and Tottenham. It has been a while since anyone wrote that, but such is the New Order at the top of the Premier League that we feel compelled to do it. And what a joy it is to see Manchester United footling around in the middle of the table and City scarcely faring much better. All we need is for Norwich to beat Chelsea at Carrow Road today and we really will be in business. As for the mighty two from north London, you wouldn't really want to bet against them in their games with West Bromwich and West Ham respectively, but this season you might just have to. Equality makes sport interesting, so what price Southampton, at home to Swansea today, for the title?


One of the first casualties of international weeks is Monday Night Football. Tonight it is Partick v Hibernian; enough said.


Stuart Lancaster must have a strange life. For much of the year, no one outside the select world of rugby union really knows who he is and then, come the November internationals and the Six Nations, everyone starts to sit up and hang on his every word. So here he is again, limbering up for one of his big months with the England kit launch. Oh for the days when they just used to name the team and be done with it.


Sorry, but the week isn't getting any better. If you're not in Dublin watching the World Grand Prix (that's darts, folks) then there's not much on for you.


At last something is stirring, if only in San Marino. Gareth Southgate takes his England Under-21s for what should be a shed-load of goals.


Had England been told at the start of their World Cup qualifying campaign that they would go through by winning their last two home games, they would surely have given the thumbs up. But they can expect no mercy if they screw up now. Today Montenegro are in town ahead of next Tuesday's visit from Poland. Elsewhere, Wales host Macedonia while Northern Ireland make the long trip to Azerbaijan.

In rugby union, The Heineken Cup kicks off with a couple of tasty Anglo-Irish clashes – Ulster against Leicester and Connacht against Saracens.


Rugby really takes centre stage, with Castres against Northampton and Harlequins v Scarlets. This is such a thrilling tournament it seems incredible that anyone would want to change it, but enjoy it while you can, because it may not be around next season.