The Sporting Week Ahead (18/03/12)


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The Independent Online


Three years ago Guus Hiddink arrived at Chelsea halfway through a disastrous season, masterminded two good cup runs, and left with an FA Cup winners' medal. Roberto Di Matteo is attempting the same, and, with much the same players. Watch this lunch-time as he attempts to squeeze the last drops of usefulness out of Terry, Drogba and Lampard. Evolution, clearly, can wait for another season or two. If it worked against Napoli, it should work against Leicester.


Afghanistan and Hong Kong meet in qualifying for the ICC World Twenty20. While the Afghan team learned the game in refugee camps on the Pakistan border, their opponents presumably learned in rather more generous facilities left by the British. Those looking for a fairy story know who to cheer for.


England start their second tour match in Sri Lanka, trying to assemble a team who will not collapse with the woozy confusion shown against Pakistan. Ravi Bopara or Samit Patel could replace Eoin Morgan, and the two should resume their bat-off for a place today.


Can the remarkable transformation continue? Arsenal had hitherto been infamously fragile, but four straight come-from-behind League wins, three of which were won with the last kick, mark a metamorphosis to make a butterfly jealous. Robust Everton would relish calling a halt to Arsenal's run.


Watch Tiger Woods try to find his best form at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. But Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell will also be there, so do not count on an epic rediscovery of winning ways.


After consecutive non-contested summer series, cricket fans must hope South Africa put up a better fight in England. Marvel at the batting depth and quality and the range and power of their seam bowling in the Third Test against New Zealand. The first two have been well contested; this will be high-class evening entertainment.


Chelsea host Spurs, and that means two-thirds of the London clubs competing for two Champions' League places. While Chelsea look most likely to miss out, they are the side with the momentum. Bolton host Blackburn, with these two most likely to stay up, but a derby defeat could still be undermining.