The sporting week ahead (16/12/12)


Three weeks into the job and Rafa Benitez is already on the brink of a trophy. If Chelsea beat Corinthians today the Not So Special One will be able to claim an honour that was beyond even Jose Mourinho. However, Benitez is painfully aware that the last time he won the Fifa Club World Championship, with Internazionale, he was sacked shortly after. Nearer home, a low-key Premier League Sunday sees Spurs face Swansea and West Bromwich Albion, who have been flagging of late, entertain West Ham.


Goalkeepers beware, it's Reading versus Arsenal Mark II. The last time they met, Reading won the first half 4-1 and lost the match 5-7... and that was when Arsenal were playing well. Since then the latter have kept seeing and sawing like five-year-olds down the park, and now they return to the Madejski to face a side stuck in the sandpit at the bottom of the League.


Be honest, none of you has given a thought to equestrianism since the Olympics, have you? Well, now's your chance, with the start of the London International Horse Show at Olympia... OK, you don't have to.


Leeds versus Chelsea has a good, old-fashioned ring about it even if the Capital One Cup doesn't. No doubt the Leeds manager, Neil Warnock, will be wheeled out this week to tell the tale of how he once turned down the job of Chelsea manager.


It's hard to believe the Twenty20 series in India will match the recent excitement of the Tests, but here's hoping. In football, Arsenal, Celtic and Manchester United will discover whom they play in the last 16 of the Champions' League.


Christmas must be coming: Friday night means a raft of lower-League football, scheduled presumably to avoid a clash with shopping. Blackpool against Wolves is the pick.


Another tricky away-day for Arsenal, this time in the early kick-off at Wigan. West Ham v Everton looks the most appealing to neutrals, with Manchester City v Reading the main home banker. In India, England face the hosts in the second Twenty20 international.