The sporting week ahead (22/01/12)


Click to follow
The Independent Online


The battle between the north of England and the north of London resumes. When these games were first played in late August, it was a 13-3 rout. But rather than racing away in the title race, the Manchester sides have been joined by Tottenham, who have since rediscovered their senses and their style. United will hope that City and Spurs weaken each other at lunch-time, because any glee at a Spurs win would be short-lived if United finished the weekend in third.


As Manchester City must know, there is little more worrying than the fear of running out of momentum. Southampton have won three of their last nine league games and were yesterday overtaken at the top of the Championship by West Ham. Leicester City at home ought to be comfortable.


India spent the first three Tests of this series trying to rid coach Duncan Fletcher of memories of the 2006-07 Ashes rout, only to be heading for a whitewash themselves as they begin the Fourth Test in Adelaide.


England are now better than that thrashed team, although they did not make it obvious in Dubai. Some patience and application will be needed in Abu Dhabi to avoid a repeat in the Second Test.


The blue half of Manchester has been buying up Burkina Faso flags and shirts (along with those of Sudanand Angola). City need Yaya Touré back and so the sooner Ivory Coast are knocked out of the African Nations Cup the better. Whether Chelsea fans are quite so desperate for the return of Salomon Kalou is less clear.


Men's singles at Grand Slams can often feel like 12 or so days of throat clearing before the meetings between the "Big Four" that defines the competition. All being well, Andy Murray will still be there when the semi-finals arrive, and the national enthusiasm can peak and crash in its traditional seasonal way.


And after such a busy week of sport, with cricket and tennis at all hours, how better to start your weekend then with a congenial lunch-time kick around involving Liverpool and Manchester United? All friends together, eh?