The sporting week ahead (19/02/12)

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The Independent Online


It is a long time since Sussex football took centre stage – now that's a strange way to start – but Brighton and Crawley have the honour in the FA Cup. The League Two side will definitely scent an upset at home to Stoke, while Gus Poyet's men will know that almost anyone can snaffle a draw at Anfield these days. How would Harry Redknapp's England cheerleaders react to a Spurs slip-up at Stevenage? It might be fun to find out. In cycling, the UCI Track World Cup Classic concludes at London's Velodrome. Next stop the Olympics.


More pressure will be heaped on Wales than England in the build-up to this week's Six Nations. They should expect nothing less as favourites to win at Twickenham on Saturday, and this week will be an interesting test of their mettle. Warren Gatland, who holds the first press conference today, is a master at diverting attention away from the players, so expect him to scatter a few red herrings in the Thames. But there is pressure too on his opposite number, Stuart Lancaster, who will be dismissed as a makeweight if England slip up.


For all the carping about Andre Villas-Boas, Chelsea could well end up as the Premier League's sole representatives in the Champions' League. All to play for, then, in the first leg in Napoli. In cricket, England and Pakistan contest the fourth one-day international while diving becomes the latest Olympic sport on the radar with the start of the test event. Expect to hear Tom Daley insisting his Games are still on track.


Manchester City, 2-1 up from the first leg in Porto, should finish the job in the Europa League at home tonight.


Manchester United, 2-0 up against Ajax, should join their neighbours in the next round, but Stoke City, 1-0 down to Valencia, look fall-guys.


With the Six Nations in full flow, the Aviva Premiership resembles an afterthought and with so many Saracens players on international duty the leaders could be upset at Worcester.


What a weekend it could be for Wales. The rugby at Twickenham, Nathan Cleverly's light-heavyweight title fight against Andrzej Fonfara and on Sunday Cardiff against Liverpool in the Carling Cup final. What a hat-trick it could be!