The sporting week ahead (07/10/12)

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The Independent Online


Last Saturday was a blip, an aberration. From hereon in, it is Sundays that count when it comes to weekend football, and here's the proof. Today we have the form team (Tottenham) at home to Aston Villa, the Under-11s (Liverpool) entertaining Stoke and the about-to-be-in-crisis-if-they-lose-again (Manchester United) at Newcastle. Plenty there to hyperventilate about on your sofa even before you sit down to Southampton v Fulham at 1.30. Outside the bubble of the Premier League there is much else going on, including the World Twenty20 final between Sri Lanka and West Indies in Colombo and the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka.


Cross the East China Sea and it's the Shanghai Rolex Masters. Tennis, of course!


Fact: it is a few buildings surrounded by a couple of pitches. Fiction: it will transform English football into a major global force. Yes, the National Football Centre will open for business today amid all sorts of absurd claims about the difference it will make to the health of the country's game. The air of unreality will be whipped further into a storm when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge cut the ribbon. No doubt William, who actually seems quite handy, will rifle a few shots into the net for the benefit of the snappers and everyone will clink their glasses approvingly.


Now for something really interesting. The Leaders in Football Conference is as impressive a gathering of folk as it gets, with Tom Werner, the original Ronaldo and Ivan Gazidis among those slotted to appear at Stamford Bridge over the next couple of days.


European rugby starts today, with Mont de Marsan against Gloucester in the Amlin Challenge Cup, a game to usher you in gently to the new campaign.


England v San Marino will be a straightforward result (even Prince William would strike fear into the visitors' defence) so more interest will be trained on Wales v Scotland, which should be an altogether more red-blooded affair. Scotland will start as favourites in a game that Craig Levein dare not lose.


Is this the worst sporting Saturday of the year? No Premier League, not even an England game. It's a toss-up between Harlequins v Biarritz in the Heineken Cup and Audley Harrison's latest comeback in boxing. Hmm. Time for a little early Christmas shopping, perhaps.