The sporting week ahead (20/01/13)

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The Independent Online


The last time Spurs did the double over Manchester United it was actually a treble: in 1989-90 they also knocked them out of the League Cup. Today Andre Villas-Boas's emerging side look to improve on their 3-2 win at Old Trafford, and would no doubt be happy with the third-placed finish their predecessors managed 23 years ago. London is overflowing with action today, with Chelsea versus Arsenal the lunchtime kick-off. In rugby union, Saracens look to clinch qualification from Heineken Cup Pool One by beating Edinburgh. A slip-up could yet let in Munster.


You won't find many neutrals moaning should Everton give Southampton a pasting today. The appointment of Mauricio Pochettino seems one of football's maddest.


Presumably Paul Lambert doesn't need to give much of a team talk ahead of Aston Villa's Capital One Cup semi-final second leg against Bradford. Already two goals adrift, Villa are in danger of delivering one of the most inept semi-final performances ever. Surely they can't be any worse today, can they?


And while we're at it, Chelsea also need a 180-degree change of fortunes in the other semi-final, against Swansea, after losing the first leg 2-0. But given their recent away form, it would be reckless to bet against them. In the Premier League, Arsenal face West Ham in the match that was postponed from Boxing Day because of the Tube strike, while in rugby union the great and the good gather for the official Six Nations' Championship launch. Yes, it's that time of year already.


The official website says today's Uefa Congress in Nyon is for Europe's "coaching community", which makes them sound like a threatened minority. Whoever they are, they will be chewing football's cud.


If anyone can crash out of two competitions in the space of three days it's Aston Villa, and tonight they travel to Millwall in the fourth round of the FA Cup.


This round's Cup draw looks much more appetising than the last, with Stoke versus Manchester City a repeat of the 2011 final. In athletics the Glasgow Aviva International offers some of Britain's Olympians their first run-out since the summer.