The sporting week ahead (12/09/10)

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Even ardent cricket fans are losing the will to live as England play Pakistan in another one-dayer at Headingley – apparently they hope to complete the series before the clocks go back. Liverpool hope to improve on a decidedly mediocre record against Birmingham, it's the men's final at the US Open tennis and Lewis Hamilton goes for it at Monza.


None of your French fancy stuff here, Mr Houllier. Expect to see little oh là là and plenty of Stoke's Rory Delap wiping his balls with a towel before launching them into the box as Villa's new boss watches on TV from across the Channel. It's also the final round of games as cricket's County Championship season reaches an exciting climax.


The last time Rangers fans arrived in Manchester en masse (for the Uefa Cup final in May 2008, when they didn't manage a shot on goal against Zenit St Petersburg), the city ran out of alcohol by lunchtime. Playing United at Old Trafford isn't such a big deal, so don't expect bars to be dry till at least 3pm.


Chelsea travel to MSK Zilina, who are such a big side I had to look up where they're from (Slovakia, if you're bothered). Elsewhere, Arsenal should get bragging rights over Braga and it's stage five of cycling's Tour of Britain. One's misty-eyed reminiscences are of Malcolm Elliott winning every stage of the Milk Race in the 1980s. (Ask your dad...about the 1980s, not Malcolm.)


The stupefyingly dull Europa League plods along as Moneybags City visit Red Bull Salzburg – it will be interesting to see if Red Bull give you wingers. Liverpool face Steaua Bucharest, who won the 1985 European Cup final against Terry Venables' Barcelona by scandalously playing for penalties. England's women will hope to have as successful a trip to Switzerland as their male counterparts in the second leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off.


Tasty Friday night footy fayre from Yorkshire as Doncaster host Leeds.


Arsenal visit Sunderland while cricket's pointless 40-over final is at Lord's. Get this, it's a day-nighter! Take your woollies. Finally, there's no chance of seeing either Higgins (John or Alex) at snooker's World Open in Glasgow.