The sporting week ahead (19/08/12)

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The Independent Online


Welcome back to the top flight, Southampton. Your first task: Manchester City away. Doddle. Chelsea travel to Wigan wondering if their extraordinary end to last season can carry over into the new one. And if you're in the vicinity of a place called Barnoldswick in Lancashire, it's your chance to get on your bike and "Ride with Brad" as the most famous Briton – after Mo? – launches the Bradley Wiggins Foundation to get more people to be physically active. Just don't try and beat him. It won't happen.


Manchester United begin their bid to topple champions City with a visit to Everton, presumably with Robin van Persie in the vanguard. Will it be another remarkable season for him, or another one spent on crutches? Meanwhile England's Test cricketers will know by the end of play if they are still the best in the world.


Steffon Armitage is due up before the beak, well the French Rugby Federation, over a positive dope test after he took a couple of paracetamol, allegedly. There could be a bitter pill to swallow for the England flanker.


Wonder horse Frankel races into uncharted territory over a mile and a quarter at York, where the Usain Bolt of the equine world goes up against his Yohan Blake stablemate, Twice Over. And fires will be lit on the summits of the highest peaks of the four home nations: Scafell Pike in England, Snowdon in Wales, Ben Nevis in Scotland and Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland, at the start of the Paralympics torch relay. The flames will then be taken in miners' lamps to each of the four capital cities.


Liverpool's Europa League campaign continues with a trip up to Heart of Midlothian, while Newcastle United head for Atromitos – which is in the suburbs of Athens, apparently. The Johnnie Walker Championship begins at Gleneagles, the last tournament before the rest of the European Ryder Cup team is announced on Monday.


The Paralympic flame reaches London with a cauldron being lit in Trafalgar Square. England begin their one-day series against South Africa in Cardiff, hoping not to lose their No 1 status in that format as well – the tourists have the same number of points as them.


The pick of the Premier League action is Newcastle's visit to Chelsea, while Wembley will be roaring for rugby league's Challenge Cup final between Leeds and Warrington. And it's Twenty20 Finals Day in Cardiff, with Essex, Yorkshire, Hampshire and Somerset slugging it out.