The sporting week ahead (15/09/13)


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The Independent Online


Such is his current form that Mo Farah can probably afford to hop, skip and jump his way round the Great North Run today. Or maybe, given the forecast, go round in a boat, because the winds will howl and the rain lash down. In football, Southampton have looked quietly efficient under Mauricio Pochettino and have become many people’s tips for the team most likely to overachieve this season. Today they will look to see off West Ham, who currently have more Judy than punch up front.


Win today and the sceptics will have to take Liverpool seriously. There should be a debut for Mamadou Sakho, the Frenchman with a penchant for bling who could become the latest cult figure on Merseyside. But he may have his work cut out against a Swansea side in search of impetus. In Southampton, the series that no one is talking about rumbles on, with England’s fifth one-day international against Australia.


It must be autumn already, because the Champions’ League is upon us, opening up with Manchester United against Sami Hyypia’s Bayer Leverkusen and Czech side Viktoria Plzen against Manchester City. In cricket, Durham will fancy them-selves for the title if they can see off Nottinghamshire in a game that starts today.


Last season Celtic exceeded everyone’s expectations by reaching the last 16 in the Champions’ League, a performance they will do well to match this year. First up, Milan away. Arsenal and Chelsea have potentially easier rides, against Marseille and Basle respectively.


Of all the opponents they thought they might face on their European debut, Wigan probably hadn’t considered Zulte Waregem, a Belgian team whose ground is so small they will have to play their Europa League fixtures in Gent. Elsewhere, Swansea play their second game in four days, in Valencia, while Tottenham play Norwegian side Tromso, the most northerly football team in Europe.


Rugby rules, with Sale v Wasps and Worcester v Harlequins.


Jose Mourinho reacquaints himself with London derbies when Fulham visit Stamford Bridge – a fixture that seldom disappoints. Meanwhile, Cardiff v Tottenham offers Steven Caulker an early opportunity to  show Andre Villas-Boas what he’s missing. In cricket, Glamorgan make a rare trip to Lord’s for the Yorkshire Bank 40 final against Nottinghamshire.